Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have retaken most of the strategic city of Al-Qusair in Homs province in central Syria, destroying tunnels used by rebels and seizing large amounts of weapons, the state-run SANA news agency said today.
The army is pursuing “armed terrorist groups” in some areas in the city, the agency said.
The main opposition group, the National Syrian Coalition, warned in a statement yesterday of a “civilian massacre” that will soon take place in Al-Qusair. It said Assad’s troops have leveled homes with artillery and rocket fire, while the air force provided cover for the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah group fighting alongside the army.
“The Syrian Coalition warns about the outcome of these distressing developments, which come as part of an organized and predetermined military campaign,” said the statement, posted on the group’s Facebook page.
Hadi al-Abdullah, an activist from Al-Qusair, told al-Arabiya television in an interview last night that 50 shells were hitting the city every minute. He said 40,000 residents, mostly women and children, had been unable to flee.
Al-Qusair is located near the highway linking Damascus to the coast and has been a conduit for weapons coming from Lebanon to the rebels. The government offensive began with attacks on villages on the city’s outskirts last month.
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