News / Middle East

    Syrian Troops, Hezbollah Attack Rebel-Held Qusair

    In this May 18, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Qusair Lens shows Syrians inspecting the rubble of damaged buildings due to government airstrikes, in Qusair, Homs province.
    In this May 18, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Qusair Lens shows Syrians inspecting the rubble of damaged buildings due to government airstrikes, in Qusair, Homs province.
    VOA News
    Syrian government troops backed by warplanes and Lebanese Hezbollah militants have attacked the rebel-held town of Qusair, as part of a weeks-long offensive to recapture the strategic area connecting Damascus to the Mediterranean coast.


    Activists in the town, along the Lebanese border, said Sunday that security forces intensified their assault during the day, hitting Qusair with artillery and warplanes and destroying multiple homes.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 52 people were killed, including 48 rebel fighters.

    A Syrian official told Western news agencies that government troops had captured the municipal headquarters and surrounding buildings. Syrian state television said security forces then began hunting down terrorists - the government's term for rebels fighting a two-year war to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

    There was no independent confirmation.

    One of the Islamist units defending Qusair (the al-Siddiq Brigade) said attempts to storm the town had failed. Another activist in the Qusair region said the rebel grip was tenuous but that the army was not in control.

    Syrian troops had cut off Qusair on three sides and captured surrounding villages in recent weeks. The town lies near a highway from Damascus to the Syrian coast and controlling it would solidify President Assad's access to coastal regions largely inhabited by his minority Alawite sect.

    Qusair also has formed part of a cross-border smuggling route for rebels.

    Meanwhile, as Syrian refugees continue to stream into Jordan and Lebanon, the international aid group Oxfam warned that warmer summer weather will increase health-related risks due to a lack of shelter, water and basic sanitation.

    Increased cases of public health-related diseases such as diarrhea and skin infections have already been recorded in host communities and temporary settlements, where an increasing number of refugees now live.

    In Lebanon's Bekaa Valley alone, there are now some 240 tented settlements, six times the number recorded in January.

    As of May 2013, some 635,000 people are in need of assistance in Lebanon - both refugees and host communities - and Oxfam says it anticipates this number to increase to over 740,000 by November.

    More than 80,000 people have been killed and several million displaced since the start of the rebellion against Assad in March 2011.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP,AFP and Reuters.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Igor from: Russia
    May 20, 2013 1:31 AM
    It is very easy to see the true color of the USA and its allies. They support the rebels because they think they can rely on those terrorists to overthrow Syrian goverment, which is Russia's ally. How can you promote democracy in a country by depending on groups of terrorists?!!! The purpose of the West is to overthrow Mr. Assad, not to create a democratic society in Syria!
    Why the West would like to overthrow Mr. Assad? Because they want to isolate Iran, Russia which are not their allies.

    by: Anonymous
    May 20, 2013 12:54 AM
    The days are numbered for Bashar al Assad (the biggest terrorist in Syria) and Hezbollah. The world should know, that anyone who backs Bashar al Assad by arming him or backing him in any way is in fact aiding a criminal guilty of endless crimes and should be dealt with accordingly.
    In Response

    by: Gerardo from: USA
    May 20, 2013 8:40 PM
    Wrong on all counts. The biggest terrorists are those Sunni Saudi Arabians who are not belonging in Syria. They are cut from the same cloth as world's biggest terrorist, Osama bin Laden. Shiite and Alawite had nothing to do with 9/11. Why do you support the people who attacked us on 9/11? I was there, and I am telling the world you are wrong. The terrorists will be defeated, they will be hung from buildings and trees. Hezbollah is the most fearsome fighter in Muslim world. Sunni terrorists have no chance. Go home anonymous. Syria was at peace, now ruined because of small minds like yours.

    by: George Kafantaris
    May 19, 2013 11:44 PM
    How are the Syrian Rebels supposed to deal with Assad's tanks, helicopters and planes?
    And we wonder why they are resorting to terrorist bombings. Have we given them any other ostensible military support?
    The conflict is in Syria but in fact it's about freedom in the rest of the world. Yet we have surrendered the keys to the free world to totalitarian regimes.
    Yes, Russian and China -- completely devoid of any moral authority -- have succeeded in rendering us fully impotent in Syria.

    by: SixSIxSix from: USA
    May 19, 2013 10:50 PM
    An active Hezbollah and Assad alliance is incredibly destabilizing for the Region. Syria seriously intervened in the Lebanese Civil War leaving a legacy of hatred and distrust. Lebanon could boil again over the fall out. Israel will not tolerate close cooperation and transfer of weapons. This thing could blow sky high through this kind of action.

    by: Regula from: USA
    May 19, 2013 9:53 PM
    This entire blood bath in Syria and the untold suffering of the Syrian people could have been prevented if the so-called international community had in fact made an effort right away, at the beginning, when Assad was ready for negotiations time and again, to support such negotiations instead on insisting - against the wishes of the Syrians - that Assad had to go. The fact that the rebellion started with a desire for reforms but without replacing Assad - those were the true wishes of the people - was just simply ignored by the West cum Israel who instigated the civil war as a means to oust Assad. Now it can only be hoped, for the sake of the Syrian people, that Assad prevails and gets to oust the entire collection of islamist hoodlooms and thugs so a functioning state can be restored. And the west will do well to support Assad. The alternative is a failed state, indeterminate civil war among powergreedy factions and a stronghold for islamic militants. Or, in the alternative that the US intervenes: the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood at the helm of a country governed by Sharia, intolerant of minorities and in the longer run, the entire Middle East governed by the various factions of the Muslim Brotherhood - that is what Qatar wants. Although the Brotherhood is Sunni, it will have relations with Iran and Iraq, not the US in the first place. At this point, whatever the US does, it will have lost one more war - this one by instigation using jihadis to do the fighting. Assad is by far the better choice. Even the US gov will have to come to that insight.
    In Response

    by: moritz from: Germany
    May 20, 2013 2:16 PM
    Had the US do gooders not have tried to take advantage of this Situation the war would have never happen or been over within weeks. We do not need another Iraq even if that is what Israel wants
    In Response

    by: gig24
    May 19, 2013 10:52 PM
    Assad was a thug too,i heard.Anyway,if he gets to stay, Mr Putin must help immediately secure all borders. He must give part of is and to establish safe-heavens,the refugees shall use their land ,not someone else's.Later Assad then must register them and assimilate them.
    In Response

    by: Old Dog from: SE Asia
    May 19, 2013 10:51 PM
    Assad has always said Syrians have to decide, his term will end in 2014. Why can't the world, esp. French gov't, not able to see that it is so easy to hold him responsible for his words?

    by: Rudy Haugeneder from: Canada
    May 19, 2013 4:47 PM
    Truth -- in the second last paragraph of a long WSJ story "Syrian Forces Push to Retake Stronghold" today: "An assertive Mr. Assad, who still enjoys popular support, particularly among Syria's minorities, said his fate wouldn't be decided at peace talks that the U.S. and Russia are trying to convene in Geneva between the regime and the opposition."

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.