- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Syrian opposition activists are warning of an imminent assault by President Bashar Assad’s forces and Lebanese Hezbollah militants on a rebel-held town near the border with Lebanon.

The Assad regime has “mobilized military forces in the direction of the city of Qusayr, in the province of Homs,” the opposition Syrian National Coalition said Tuesday. “The Syrian Coalition stresses that this is an extremely dangerous situation. We warn civil society of these new crimes that Assad may soon commit against the residents of Qusayr.”

Opposition sources said the regime’s soldiers and tanks have taken up positions around the town.


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The Syrian National Coalition, citing reliable sources, said the buildup is taking place near the village of Al-Aboudiyeh, on the outskirts of Qusayr.

The regime’s forces have been joined by Hezbollah fighters, according to multiple sources inside Syria who spoke on background Tuesday.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said last week that the Obama administration is “deeply concerned” by reports that the Assad regime had been dropping leaflets on Qusayr warning civilians that they would be treated as enemy combatants if they did not evacuate.

The Syrian opposition asked for help to save “30,000 civilians facing imminent danger,” and called on the United Nations to urge Lebanon to control its borders and stop the flow of Hezbollah fighters into Syria.

Hassan Nasrallah, who heads Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group, said earlier this month that Hezbollah members are fighting alongside Mr. Assad’s forces in Syria.

Hezbollah activity drew Israel into Syria’s two-year-old civil war earlier this month. Israel conducted airstrikes inside Syria that reportedly targeted arms shipments bound for Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.

“Israel is not after the Hezbollah fighters in Syria, but after the weapons that are being transferred to Lebanon,” Eyal Zisser, dean of the faculty of humanities at Tel Aviv University and an expert on Syria and Lebanon, said in a phone interview from Tel Aviv. “If Hezbollah continues to transfer weapons, we might see another [airstrike].”