- Producers eye Capitol Hill for latest reality TV hit
- No selfie awareness: Obama, Biden mug for Instagram as Ukraine implodes
- Putin to Snowden: We don’t collect droves of data on everyone like the U.S.
- Clemson football’s new opponent: Atheists upset with player prayer, Bible study
- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s re-election launch party will be ‘history in the making,’ brother says
- Louisiana group hits back at Sen. Mary Landrieu campaign ad with ‘Actress Mary’ spot
- Brain surgery victim struggles with Obamacare: ‘It’s scary’
- Pro-Russian forces storm Ukrainian national guard base; 3 killed
- Joe Biden’s first Instagram pic mocked as shill for sunglass ad
- Confederate flag, blackface flaps lead Catholic school to expel 4
Assad forces, Hezbollah retake Qusair, head for Aleppo in Syria
Regime allies say Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces will likely try to recapture the rebel stronghold of Aleppo, the country’s largest city and economic hub.
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.
The fate of 1,500 injured people who the Red Cross said were trapped in the town was unknown Wednesday, Reuters reported.
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.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA), like most rebel militias, is overwhelmingly drawn from the ranks of the Sunni Muslim tradition.
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
By John R. Bolton
Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- Removal of military gear limits options for U.S., NATO in Ukraine
- IRS emails reveal discussion with Justice about suing nonprofits for election activities
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- NAPOLITANO: Hope for the dead and freedom for the living
- CURL: The state of the Union worse than you thought
- PETA officials collide with deer
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers 'more deadly than jihadists'
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.