Sunni, Shiite militias battle for control of Al-Qusayr
April 23, 2013
April 23, 2013
By Nuha Shabaan and Ahmed Kwider
Lebanese Sunni clerics on Tuesday called on supporters to join the fight in southern Homs province as Hezbollah and the Syrian army pounded FSA targets in and around the town of Qusayr, 15 kilometers from the Lebanese border.
“Hundreds of Lebanese families in [the village of] Tal Kalakh are asking for help and someone to defend them,” Al Arabiya quoted the imam of the Taqwa Mosque in Tripoli, Lebanon said on Tuesday.
Sheikh Salem al-Rifai called for a jihad against Hezbollah and accused the Lebanese government of fanning the flames of sectarianism by turning a blind eye to the Shiite militia’s cross-border attacks on villages inside Syria.
An estimated 30,000 Lebanese citizens live in villages inside Syria, and have for centuries when the area was one united province under Ottoman rule.
“If the regime captures al-Qusayr area, they will secure their arms supply route to Hezbollah on the Lebanese border, which is also used to move arms from Hezbollah to Syria. Al-Qusayr has a strategic position on the Lebanese border,” said Khoudair Khafcheh, 27, a member of the Homs LCC.
Al-Qusayr “is the gateway into Homs province,” said Suhaib al-Ali, an FSA spokesman in Homs. “If the Assad regime and Hezbollah can capture it, they will be able to capture rebel-held towns across the province.”
Intense fighting continued on Tuesday between Hezbollah and the FSA and its Islamist allies. This video shows Jabhat a-Nusra fighters on the frontline of battle with the Lebanese militia on Monday.
“Hezbollah fighters were firing into Al-Qusair from the Shiite villages they control on the Syrian side of the border,” said Babers al-Talawi, a volunteer activist from Abil, a village outside Homs city.
Hezbollah has captured an estimated eight villages inside Syria; four of which are Sunni majority and four Shiite majority. The Hezbollah-dominated villages are: Zaiti, Al-Aqrabia, Haweik, Al-Fadlyeh, A-Safsafeh, Al-Hamam, Al-Masriyeh and Al-Jantaliyeh.
There are shortages in all basic commodities in Al-Qusayr, especially medical equipment and supplies, Khafcheh said. “There’s also a shortage in food supplies, and prices have doubled 5 times.”