U.S., Turkey, Qatar call for U.N. rights debate on Syria

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The United States, Turkey and Qatar called Friday for an urgent debate on Syria at the U.N.’s top human rights body next week, citing the escalating conflict and the regime's assault on the central town of Qusayr.

“We have the honor to request the Human Rights Council to hold an urgent debate on the deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, and the recent killings in al-Qusayr,” the ambassadors of the three countries wrote in their request to council president Remigiusz Henczel.

On Monday, at least 40 Hezbollah fighters were killed in the Syrian town of Qusayr, sources told Al Arabiya, following clashes between Syrian rebels and regime forces.

The assault on Qusayr appeared to be part of a campaign by President Bashar al-Assad's forces to consolidate their grip on Damascus and secure links between the capital and the government strongholds on the coast via the contested central city of Homs.

State news agency SANA said the army had "restored security and stability to most Qusayr neighborhoods" and was "chasing the remnants of the terrorists in the northern district".

Hezbollah denies taking part in Syria’s two-year conflict – which has killed at least 80,000 people, according to the U.N. However, the group – an ally of the Syrian regime – has held regular funerals of Hezbollah fighters, who – it said – were killed serving their “jihadi duties.”

Earlier Sunday, Syrian State TV reported that Syrian troops had entered the center of the rebel stronghold of Qusayr, seizing the town’s main square and its municipality building.

However, Hadi Abdullah, a Syrian activist speaking from Qusayr, denied to Al Arabiya that the town had fallen into the hands of regime forces. The activist added that with support from Hezbollah militias, the Syrian regime is heavily shelling Qusayr, leveling civilian homes.

Syrian activists told Al Arabiya on Sunday that regime airstrikes and heavy shelling of the strategic town, near the Lebanese border killed at least 58 people and left hundreds wounded, including opposition fighters.

Qusayr is home to about 20,000 residents and has been besieged for weeks by government troops.

Earlier in May, spokesperson of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) Louay Almokdad told Al Arabiya that Hezbollah was using artillery shells containing fatal Mustard Gas in the area.

The town is strategically important because it links Damascus with the coast, where regime loyalists are concentrated.
The Syrian Revolution General Commission, a network of activists on the ground, also reported intense bombardment of Qusayr.

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