Activists say 40 Hezbollah, Syrian regime fighters killed in Qusayr clashes

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At least forty Hezbollah fighters and Syrian soldiers have been killed in recent clashes with opposition fighters in the strategic town of al-Qusayr in Homs province, activists said on Saturday.

In clashes with Syrian troops in Qusayr, the opposition fighters described on Friday what they called the “biggest intervention” by Lebanese militant movement, Hezbollah, in the two-year conflict that started as protests against President Bashar al-Assad but morphed into a civil war.

Qusayr is a contested central Syrian town near a key highway between Damascus and the coast.

According to the activists, Hezbollah fighters used Syrian government aircraft as backup to take control over large areas in the Tal al-Nabi, described as occupying the highest hill in the Qusayr region.

The fierce fighting in Qusayr, which is located along the Syrian-Lebanese border, was followed by the deployment of Syrian soldiers, who were also backed by warplanes, on Friday.

Government troops have stepped up counterattacks against opposition forces threatening regime supply lines on the country’s frontiers.

On Friday, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) claimed that it has seized control of some areas in the northeast Syrian city of Qamishli for the first time. Qamishli is yet another frontier area, located in Al-Hasaka province neighboring Turkey.

Bomb blasts and shots fired into the air to mourn a fallen Syrian government soldier could be heard Friday on the Lebanese side of the border as fighting raged around Qusayr, the Associated Press reported.

Syria’s opposition have gained momentum and made significant gains in the past weeks, largely due to an influx of arms.

AP reported Arab officials and Western military saying that regional powers opposed to Assad government have stepped up weapons supplies to Syrian rebels, with Jordan opening up as a new route.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war, the United Nations says.

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