The armed uprising against the regime of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad will carry on despite the fall Wednesday of the strategic town of Qusayr, the war-torn country's main opposition group said.
“The blessed revolution will continue. Victory is on the side of the righteous, who resisted in the face of oppression and injustice,” AFP quoted the National Coalition as saying in a statement.
Syrian opposition fighters withdrew overnight Wednesday from the Syrian town of Qusayr near the border with Lebanon after an onslaught by the Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters killed hundreds of people, a rebel statement said.
"In face of this huge arsenal and lack supplies and the blatant intervention of Hezbollah... tens of fighters stayed behind and ensured the withdrawal of their comrades along with the civilians," said the statement, which was sent to Reuters.
Earlier, Syrian state television said announced the regime’s army “totally controls” Qusayr after an offensive against rebel fighters that lasted almost three weeks.
“The Syrian army totally controls the Qusayr region in Homs province after killing a large number of terrorists and capturing others,” the report said, using the regime’s terminology for the rebels.
Hezbollah says opposition ‘delusional’
Hezbollah’s deputy leader, Naim Qassem, said the fall of Qusayr was a blow to American-Israel interests and proved that efforts to oust Assad’s regime were “delusional,” Reuters reported him as saying.
“The battle today has only one significance, and that is the fight against Israel and those who support its plans,” Qassem said in a statement. “Today we proved without any doubt that the gamble to topple Syria is a delusional plan.”
Fighters from Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, allies of the Syrian government, have been fighting alongside the Syrian army over the past month, battling against fighters from the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA).
At least eight Hezbollah fighters were killed on Tuesday in fighting against Syrian rebels near Damascus, FSA chief of staff Salim Idriss told Al Arabiya.
In southern Lebanon, thousands of Hezbollah supporters held funerals for two fighters who were killed while fighting with Assad regime’s army in Syria.
Hezbollah’s army is reportedly fighting in various fronts across Syria, including areas of Homs, Aleppo and Damascus in addition to the areas bordering Lebanon.
On Tuesday, the United States reiterated its condemnation of Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria.
“We are deeply concerned by the continued fighting in Qusayr and condemn the indiscriminate killing of civilians by Assad’s forces and his proxies, including Hezbollah fighters,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
The United States and Russia have pledged to work in tandem to seek to bring the Syrian regime and the opposition together and try to negotiate a political transition to end the war that has left some 94,000 dead.
The initial plan for the talks to be held early this month -- to build on an accord signed in Geneva on June 30 -- has now slipped into July, amid wrangling over the exact guest list and agenda.
The Syrian opposition has said they would not attend as long as fighters from Iran and the Islamist-militia Hezbollah are fighting in Syria alongside the forces of president Assad.
- Syrian army advances in Qusayr and Damascus suburb
- No safe way out as Syrian forces grind down besieged Qusayr
- Syrian doctor says 300 wounded trapped in Qusayr
- Syria’s Qusayr pounded as battle enters third week
- Syria to grant Red Cross access to Qusayr when fighting over
- Russia blocks United Nations draft on Syria’s Qusayr amid violence