April 17, 2013
By Ahmed Kwider and Nuha Shabaan
Syrian activists and fighters in Homs are condemning the Lebanese government for allowing Hezbollah militiamen to fire into Syria and enter at will to conduct attacks there.
The battleground is al-Qusair in Homs province, located about 12 kilometers outside the city of Homs.
“The battles are fierce, with shells fired from Lebanon landing on al-Qusair and Islamist groups firing back into Lebanon,” said an independent activist, 24, from the city of Homs who goes by the nickname Abu Bilal al-Homsi.
On Tuesday, the Syrian Coalition issued a statement “calling on the Lebanese government to exert control over its borders and put an immediate stop to Hezballah’s military operations on Syrian territory.”
“The Lebanese government backs and supports the regime – they overlook Hezbollah’s crimes in Syria,” al-Homsi said.
“We expect that 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,” said a Homs-based journalist for the opposition Sham News Network (SNN).
Activists say Hezbollah fighters man the checkpoints along the Lebanese borders, and are distinguished by their headbands with the words “Lebanese Hezbollah” or “Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein” [Shiite references] written on them.
On Wednesday, regime forces launched at least one surface-to-surface missile that hit a shelter for displaced people in the Sunni village of Eastern Buwaida,
The town, population 7,000, is about 15 milometers from al-Qusair and is located near the highway that links Damascus with the north. The regime is trying to recapture it “to stop the rebels’ progress to Homs,” said Suhaib al-Ali, a spokesman for the Homs Military Staff Council in Homs.
“It seems the regime forces are playing the same old games to use the civilians as a way to pressure” people to abandon support for the FSA, said the SNN journalist.
Anti-regime activists in Homs believe that the Hezbollah maneuvers, backed by the shabiha and regime forces, are part of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s plan to create an Alawite enclave, or state, following his fall. “Recently, Alawite families who used to live in Eish al-Warwar in Damascus have moved to neighborhoods held by the regime in Homs,” said the SNN correspondent.
Activists say that if the battle lines are sectarian, they will rally Sunnis to their fight.
“We in Homs warn the Lebanese government that if they don’t stop Hezbollah from interfering in Syria, we will ask the Sunnis in Tripoli [and other Lebanese cities] to cross the border and fight with the Syrian people against Bashar’s mercenaries,” said Abu Bilal al-Homsi.