Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Syria army deals severe blow to rebels in key town

BAALBEK, Lebanon — Syrian troops and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies captured a strategic border town Wednesday after a grueling three-week battle, dealing a severe blow to rebels and opening the door for President Bashar Assad's regime to seize back the country's central heartland.

The regime triumph in Qusair, which Assad's forces had bombarded for months without success, demonstrates the potentially game-changing role of Hezbollah in Syria's civil war. The gain could also embolden Assad to push for all-out military victory rather than participate in peace talks being promoted by the United States and Russia.

The Shiite militant group lost dozens of fighters in the battle for Qusair, underlining its commitment in support of Assad's regime and edging the fight in Syria further into a regional sectarian conflict pitting the Middle East's Iranian-backed Shiite axis against Sunnis.

Most of the armed rebels in Syria are members of the country's Sunni Muslim majority, while Assad has retained core support among the country's minorities, including his own Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, along with Christians and Shiite Muslims.

Both sides had dug in for an all-out battle for Qusair, a key crossroads town of supply lines between Damascus and western and northern Syria that had been under rebel control since early last year.

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian army troops hold up national flags in the town of Qusair, near the Lebanon border, Homs province, Syria, Wednesday, June 5, 2013. The Syrian army triumphantly announced Wednesday the capture of a strategic town near the Lebanese border, telling the nation it has “cleansed” the rebel-held Qusair of “terrorists” fighting President Bashar Assad’s troops. The capture of the town, which lies close to the Lebanese border, solidifies some of the regime’s recent gains on the ground that have shifted the balance of power in Assad’s favor in the Syrian civil war. (AP Photo/SANA) BEI103

Associated Press

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian army troops hold up national flags in the town of Qusair, near the Lebanon border, Homs province, Syria, Wednesday, June 5, 2013. The Syrian army triumphantly announced Wednesday the capture of a strategic town near the Lebanese border, telling the nation it has “cleansed” the rebel-held Qusair of “terrorists” fighting President Bashar Assad’s troops. The capture of the town, which lies close to the Lebanese border, solidifies some of the regime’s recent gains on the ground that have shifted the balance of power in Assad’s favor in the Syrian civil war. (AP Photo/SANA) BEI103

Syria army deals severe blow to rebels in key town 06/05/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 10:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84

    Nation

    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General

    Crime

    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  5. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest

    Nation

    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.