Syrian government forces and Hezbollah gorillas guerrillas took control of most of the strategic town of Qusayr after weeks of intense fighting.
The rebels, who had held on to the city for over a year, admitted defeat and withdrew in shame in the darkest hours of the night. The Syrian government forces were in a slightly better mood. The forces of President Bashar al-Assad were seen raising flags over wrecked buildings and celebrating their important strategic victory. Sounds like they’ve been catching up on their military strategy reading:
But it wasn’t all about their military strategy – the Syrian army has Hezbollah to thank for their victory. The government forces had been helped in the battle by seasoned Hezbollah fighters, prompting the leader of the main rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, to say that his fighters were prepared to take the battle inside Lebanon in pursuit of Hezbollah fighters.
Needless to say, this didn’t go over too well. The battle was the largest and most public intervention yet by Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group allied with Assad, and now tensions are running high in the region at the prospect of the war flowing over the Syrian border.
The battle is also likely to put a damper on prospects for peace negotiations planned for this month. Neither side wants to into the peace conference looking weak! Which is a shame because more than 80,000 people have been killed in Syria and more than 1.5 million have fled the country since an uprising against Mr Assad began in 2011. The latest UN report, released on Tuesday, documented “new levels of brutality”, with evidence of fresh massacres and atrocities involving children. And to top it off there’s that whole “growing evidence of chemical weapons” thing.