- Amnesty International says Syria guilty of war crimes for food blockade
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: ‘We are going to crush them’
- Adam Lanza’s dad: He would’ve killed me ‘in a heartbeat’
- North Korea holds election: 100% turnout, Kim Jong-un gets — 100% of vote
- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
Assad forces, Hezbollah retake Qusair, head for Aleppo in Syria
Rebel leaders threatened to retaliate against Hezbollah on its home territory, sparking fears that spillover from Syria’s two year-old conflict is worsening and will feed sectarian violence and political instability in Lebanon and Iraq.
Overnight, rebels and residents in Qusair fled the besieged town, and TV stations showed government forces entering the apparently deserted townWednesday.
“Yes, dear brethren, this is a battle that we lost, but the war is not over yet,” said the Homs Revolution News, which is associated with the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition activist network, according to CNN.
Reuters news agency reported that rebel militias trying to hold the town, which had been in their hands for a year, had lost 500 men — more than half their forces.
After holding out for seven weeks, the remaining 400 fighters withdrew with an unknown number of civilians through a corridor that government forces had advertised as a safe passage for anyone wanting to leave Qusair.
Control of the city not only blocks an important resupply route for the rebels but also gives the government control of a vital corridor through the central province of Homs, which links Damascus to the coastal heartland of Mr. Assad’s minority Alawite sect, a branch of Shiite Islam.
Syrian opposition leaders in recent days have warned that pro-regime militias might commit massacres and other war crimes if the military were to retake Qusair.
A senior Lebanese political source close to Hezbollah told Reuters the group would continue to “indirectly” aid the Syrian military, saying Mr. Assad’s forces would move on to retake the rebel stronghold and Syria’s commercial capital Aleppo.
“The battle will continue in all regions, but I believe Aleppo [will be] first,” the source said.
Underlining the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict, CNN screened a YouTube video Wednesday showing what the poster said were rebel fighters from the Free Syrian Army launching rockets at two Shiite villages near Aleppo.
Last week, the group’s leader, Brig. Gen. Salim Idris, asked the public to “excuse [the] FSA” for any retaliation if Qusair falls.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
- Senator's memo shows Iran links in Homeland Security's troubled immigration program
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- Dems back bill to fix problems in investor visa program
- Democrats proceed with Mayorkas vote despite pending investigation
- Game players don't think peace has a chance in Syria
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Investigators puzzle: How does a 777 jetliner just disappear into thin air?
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- CPAC 2014: Straw poll signals Paul-Cruz showdown
- Russia besieges Crimea as U.S. seeks diplomacy; Putin remains undeterred by Obama's sanctions
- U.S. deploys 12 F-16 fighter jets to Poland as exercise in response to Ukraine situation
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Spoiled-kid culture creates greedy adults
- 80 people publicly executed across North Korea for films, Bibles
- As Ukraine falls, Obama takes Key Largo golf vacation, Biden hits Virgin Islands
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again