The Syrian government is providing Lebanon’s Hezbollah fighters with an aerial shield to help them advance near the strategic town of al-Qusayr in Homs province, activists claimed on Saturday.
“The Syrian regime is providing aerial shield to Hezbollah fighters to allow them advance and to occupy al-Radwaniya village,” one activist said in a video showing Syrian planes roaming Qusayr’s skies.
Heavy clashes between Syrian rebels and Hezbollah, a strong ally to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, were taking place in Radwaniya and Burhaniya villages near the rebel-held town of Qusayr, the activist added.
“Coordination between the Syrian regime and Hezbollah is very strong.”
Syrian troops seized Radwaniya and hours later fresh fighting raged in nearby Tal al-Nabi Mando, AFP reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying.
Tal is important because it is located on a hilltop, giving whoever controls it a strategic advantage.
“The situation here is very bad. They are trying to take control of the countryside surrounding Qusayr, in order to then attack us in the city,” Qusayr-based activist Hadi al-Abdallah told AFP via the Internet.
Qusayr, located along the Syrian-Lebanese border, had witnessed fierce fighting between Syrian rebels and Hezbollah fighters.
On April 13, activists reported that at least forty Hezbollah fighters and Syrian soldiers have been killed in clashes with the rebels in Qusayr, which is near a key highway between Damascus and the coast.
Syrian conflict spillover
Six shells fell across the border in Lebanon, AFP reported on Saturday.
One of the shells hit the town of Hermel in eastern Lebanon - a stronghold of the Hezbollah - the first time violence from Syria spilled over into the town, a Lebanese security source told AFP.
The shells triggered panic and residents rushed to take cover indoors as shops in Hermel closed.
“The situation is unbearable. The (Lebanese) army should respond to the sources of fire. People are frightened,” Ali Shamas, a 50-year-old school principal from the town, told AFP.
In the past two years, cross-border shellfire from Syria has regularly hit Lebanon. Most shells were launched from regime-held areas, but anti-Assad rebels last week claimed firing into Hermel’s countryside, threatening further attacks if Hezbollah did not stop fighting the insurgency.
Lebanon is sharply divided over the Syria conflict, with Hezbollah and its allies backing the regime of Assad while the Sunni-led March 14 movement supporting the uprising.
Until 2005, Damascus dominated Lebanon politically and militarily for 30 years.