BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian rebels will use a planned meeting with Western officials to drive home a warning that continued reluctance to arm them will hand an irreversible military advantage to President Bashar al-Assad’s Iranian-backed forces.
Deeply frustrated by the foot-dragging over military aid, several rebel commanders contrasted what they said was Western preference for talks over action with the unqualified support Assad enjoyed from his allies in Tehran and Moscow.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian government troops backed by Hezbollah guerrillas seized the western village of Buwayda on Saturday, extinguishing final rebel resistance around the town of Qusair in a fresh success for President Bashar al-Assad.
The swift fall of Buwayda came just three days after rebels were swept out of Qusair, denying them a previously important supply route into neighboring Lebanon and giving renewed momentum to Assad’s forces battling a two-year civil war.
BEIRUT/CAIRO (Reuters) – Sunni Muslim preachers condemned Iran and its “Satanic” Shi’ite allies in Friday sermons after a battle in Syria that has inflamed sectarian rhetoric which risks spreading violence around the Middle East.
In Tehran, the non-Arab power behind the Shi’ite strand of Islam followed by a minority of Muslims, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for restraint and unity, blaming Western powers and Israel for fomenting the sectarian strife.
QUSAIR, Syria (Reuters) – Apart from a bullet-scarred clock tower that somehow survived the battle, few buildings still stood on Wednesday in the ruined streets of the former rebel stronghold of Qusair, seized hours earlier by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
A Syrian flag, planted on top of the tower by one of the fighters who drove the rebels out, fluttered above the concrete shells of buildings which ring Qusair’s central square.
QUSAIR, Syria (Reuters) – Syrian government forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies seized control of the border town of Qusair on Wednesday, dealing a major defeat to rebel fighters battling to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
Two weeks of heavy fighting reduced many buildings to mounds of twisted concrete, whole blocks flattened by shelling, with glass and rubble littering the streets as tired but delighted Syrian soldiers gathered at the bullet-riddled clock tower.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad tightened their siege of rebels in a strategic town on Friday, in a counter-offensive that is shifting the balance of the Syrian war ahead of a peace conference next month.
Rebels said they had managed to infiltrate new fighters into the town of Qusair on the Lebanese frontier, where they are encircled by Assad’s army and his allies in Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia who have openly joined the war on his behalf.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has prevailed over its small but ambitious Gulf neighbor Qatar to impose itself as the main outside force supporting the Syrian rebels, a move that may curb the influence of Qatari-backed Islamist militants.
Though governments in neither Riyadh nor Doha would provide official comment, several senior sources in the region told Reuters that the past week’s wrangling among Syria’s opposition factions in Istanbul was largely a struggle for control between the two Gulf monarchies, in which Saudi power finally won out.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday Moscow was still committed to sending him advanced anti-aircraft weapons, although a source close to the Russian defense ministry said the missiles had yet to arrive.
The prospect of the missiles arriving is a serious worry for Western and regional countries opposing Assad which have called on Moscow not to send them.
BEIRUT, May 30 (Reuters) – Syrian rebels under siege near
the Lebanese border pleaded for help on Thursday against
government troops and their Hezbollah allies as a confident
President Bashar al-Assad spoke of having new Russian missiles.
Though Moscow contradicted suggestions he had taken delivery
of an entire, long-range S-300 anti-aircraft system which alarms
Israel, Russia’s plan to send them highlighted the international
confrontation brewing over Syria, even as Moscow and Washington
work together for a peace conference between the warring sides.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian rebels under siege in a town near the Lebanese border issued a desperate appeal on Thursday for reinforcements and medical supplies as government troops and Lebanese guerrillas pounded their defences.
Alongside a military offensive on Qusair and rebel-held Damascus suburbs, President Bashar al-Assad tried to drive home diplomatic advantage; he highlighted his foreign alliances in announcing the arrival of anti-aircraft missiles from Russia and militia from Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and declared his willingness to attend a Geneva peace conference with his squabbling opponents.