April 17, 2013

Abu Muhammed al-Homsi, 34, is a correspondent with the Sham News Network in Homs province, and has been closely following fighting along the Lebanese border between Hezbollah fighters, regime forces and the Free Syrian Army. Ahmed Kwider got the latest from the ground.

Q: What are the recent developments in northern outer Homs, especially in bordering al-Qusayer near Lebanon?

A: The northern rural was targeted by MiG fighters and rocket launchers. There was a massacre in the Eastern Bouaida after a Scud missile hit it. There were more than 20 airstrikes on al-Qusayer and the villages around it. They [army] is trying hard to invade Abel, where more than 12 were killed with a surface-to-surface missile. Clashes between the FSA and the government forces continue near the village.

The regime committed the massacre of the eastern Bouaida because they want to force the FSA out of al-Qusayer’s eastern areas. They also want to break the FSA siege on al-Dabaa airport.

Q: How far is Abel from al-Qusayer? Why is the regime trying to invade it?

A: Abel lies on Homs-Damascus road, and is the first village on the road to al-Qusayer city. The army is trying to surround the FSA in the city, by marching from the east and allowing Hezbollah to march from the west. They consider al-Qusayer city the key town connecting the regime with the Lebanese Hezbollah. They are trying to control it in order to establish a a loyal state to al-Assad, that extends from al-Qusayer and Homs, and end in a-Rastan in the north.

Q: Do you mean an Alawite state? What is the evidence such a plan exists?

A: Assad has divided Homs, and isolated Palmyra from the city of Homs and the rural areas. Recently, Alawite families who used to live in Eish al-Warwar in Damascus have moved to the neighborhoods dominated by the regime in Homs.

Q: What are the forces participating with the government army in the invasions and the killing? A: Hezbollah participates in the fight, and their elements are deployed on all the army checkpoints in Homs and the rural areas. We recognize their Lebanese accents and the strips they wear [they place them on the head]; on which they wrote “Lebanese Hezbollah,” or “al-Hasan and al-Hussain.”

Q: What are the tasks assigned to them? At what times do they operate?

A: Their mission is to kill Sunnis in Homs. That is what [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini taught them; kill a Sunni and go to paradise.

They have been participating since the very beginning of the uprising. They participated with Assad battalions in invading Dayr Balabeh on April 1 2012, and committed a massacre in which 600 were killed. They were slaughtered with knives by Hezbollah.

Q: How do the FSA and the Islamist battalions respond to the attacks from Lebanon?

A: Homs is the only Syrian city that doesn’t have heavy weaponry. The rebels only use automatic rifles, RPGs, and the anti-aircraft machinegun 14.5mm.

Q: Do you mean the Shiite villages dominated by Hezbollah in Lebanon weren’t bombed?

A: A couple of days ago, the FSA targeted one of Hezbollah’s posts. The Lebanese government went crazy about it, even though Hezbollah launches tens of rockets from Lebanon every day on al-Qusayer city.

Q: Is the FSA capable of confronting Hezbollah and bombing its posts, or do they need assistance from Jabhat a-Nusra and the Islamist battalions?

A: The elements of Jabhat a-Nusra in Homs are all from Homs, and they work as one.

Q: Do you think Hezbollah and the Syrian regime will be in an open war with the Lebanese army if things continue to evolve this way?

No, quite the contrary; we expect the Lebanese forces will assist the Syrian army, especially that no statement has been made [by the Lebanese government] to condemn Hezbollah’s operations inside Syria.

Q: Will the FSA and the other battalions engage in an open war with the Syrian army, Hezbollah and the Lebanese army?

A: The FSA has sworn to liberate all of Syria, especially after the massacres against civilians in Homs.

Q: How accurate is the information about 700 Hezbollah fighters sent to al-Qusayer city?

A: Yes, and this isn’t new. Hezbollah tries to sneak through the borders to Syria every day. As I previously told you, they’ve been in the neighborhoods and villages of Homs since the very beginning of the revolution.