May 20, 2013
The Syrian regime claimed victory in battles in an around Al-Qusayr, a key town in Homs province, after pounding it with air raids, shells and house-to-house ground fighting that began on Sunday. Al-Qusayr, located along the the Lebanese border, is believed to be where Hezbollah stores its weapons. In recent weeks, the regime, backed by Hezbollah, has launched an increasingly aggressive campaign to recapture the city from the Free Syrian Army. The Syrian Observatory reports at least 50 killed so far.
On Monday, the FSA claimed it had killed dozens of Hezbollah fighters over the weekend as Syrian state media reported that it had “restored security and stability to Al-Qusayr” and is “currently pursuing armed terrorist groups in some areas of the city,” two accounts that appear to contradict each other.
Mohammad al-Abdullah, 27, used to work with his father selling agricultural equipment. Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, al-Abdullah has volunteered as a citizen journalist to bring voices from the ground to the outside world. He explained to Ahmed Kwider via Skype from his home in Al-Qusayr why this battle will represent a turning point in the revolution as firing took place in the background.
Q: What are you seeing and hearing around you in al-Qusayr?
A: The random attacks have not stopped since Sunday night. Today the air force conducted four raids on the city and targeted civilian houses of beginning at 6:30am and lasting two hours.
The people of al-Quasyr have not sleep since this began. I hear the attacks and bombing, the ambulance voices, people’s screams for help coming from the eastern part of al-Qusayr. All the fire I am hearing is coming from that side of the city, where the regime has set up countless checkpoints and are firing indiscriminately on people and the houses.
Q: How are civilians dealing with these attacks?
A: The big problem here is the random shelling. We cannot help injured people or take people out from the bombed houses that have collapsed on top of them.
Two weeks ago the regime targeted a field hospital, but no causalities were reported, because we had information about the regime targeting it. So we did moved the people and the equipment before the shelling.
We have basic medical supplies for the next 72 hours. If the battle takes longer, we will face human disaster.
Q: Who is the armed opposition engaged in fighting right now?
A: Al-Farouq division, al-Qusayr brigade, al-Sadiek brigade, Freemen of Sham Brigade, and Islamic al-Baraa Battalions.
Q: What are the obstacles facing the rebels on the ground?
A: The regime’s army is encircling al-Qusayr. Regime forces are accompanied by Hezbollah in al-Mashtal area, which has the biggest shabiha checkpoint. Most of the shells come from there. It is only one kilometer from east al-Qusayr. We are not denying we have heavy weapons, but unfortunately the battle is unfolding from a close distance. To get benefits from these weapons we have, we need long-distance fighting so we can hit our targets.
Q: What if al-Qusayr falls under the regime control?
A: If al-Qusayr falls, the revolution will fail in most of Syria because people will begin to lose hope. Also, the only line between the coast and Damascus is Homs. And the most important thing to note is that al-Qusayr is the reinforcement line for Hezbollah in the past and the present.