Rebels seek extra help for key town
Syrian troops celebrate after they captured three villages in the strategic Qusair area of Homs. AFP photoSyria’s main opposition alliance May 22 urged fighters across the country to “rush to the rescue” of rebel-held town Qusair, which is under attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s troops and their allies from the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group.
The appeal came as Syrian government forces battled for the fourth straight day, trying to wrest control of the western town from the rebels. The town lies along a strategic land corridor linking the capital, Damascus, with the Mediterranean coast. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah group has been fighting alongside Syrian regime forces in the town and surrounding areas for weeks.
“Revolutionary battalions and the Free Syrian Army should rush to the rescue of Qusair and Homs,” George Sabra, the acting chief of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), said in a statement, urging rebel brigades around the country to send forces and weapons. Sabra also urged the Lebanese authorities to respect Syria’s sovereignty by preventing foreign gunmen from crossing the border to fight in the civil war. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog estimates around 25,000 civilians are trapped inside Qusair, with thousands more still in villages around the town in central Homs province bordering Lebanon. The fighting since the last weekend left more than 100 people dead.
In Amman, British Foreign Secretary William Hague underlined the support of Iran and Hezbollah to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, speaking before a meeting of the Friends of Syria alliance. “It is very clear that the Syrian regime is receiving an increasing level of support in recent months from outside Syria from Hezbollah and Iran. This is a regime that is increasingly dependent on external support,” Hague said.