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Syrian army recaptures strategic al-Qussair city: state-media


16:27, June 05, 2013

DAMASCUS, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Syrian troops have regained full control of strategic central city of al-Qussair in the Homs province after a two-week-long offensive, the state-TV said Wednesday.

The troops have undertaken "fast and swift" operations in al-Qussair city and restored security to the entire city, the state-TV said.

"Over the few days, the army has undertaken precise and qualitative operations to dismantle terrorist cells which have been crowned today by restoring security to al-Qussair," the TV said in a statement.

It said the army' s full regaining of al-Qussair is a "strategic" achievement that would largely hasten the collapse of the terrorists in the Homs province and the central region.

The Syrian army pushed its way into al-Qussair city located near the borders with Lebanon more than two weeks ago after taking control of its suburbs following 46 days of battling. The offensive aimed to cut the rebels' main supply line in the central region of the country.

The rebels in al-Qussair have been buoyed by Salafi groups in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli. The Syrian government has recently warned that it would not waver in face of the armed groups that are moving between Syria and Lebanon.

Opposition activists claim that the Lebanese Hezbollah group is fighting alongside the government troops in al-Qussair as the group is known of being an important ally of the Syrian administration.

They charged that Hezbollah' s participation has tweaked the balance in favor of the Syrian troops, calling on Hezbollah' s leader, Hasan Nasrallah, to withdraw his fighters from Syria.

Salim Idris, the leader of the rebels Free Syrian Army (FSA), told the Saudi-funded al-Arabia that around 15,000 fighters of Hezbollah are currently fighting alongside the Syrian army nationwide.

Meanwhile, the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV ran live footage from al-Qussair showing the government troops are currently combing the city.

Taleb Ibrahim, a political expert, told Xinhua recently that al-Qussair' s importance emanates from its location which is about 35 kilometers south of Homs province and is situated in a mountainous area overlooking Syria's border with Lebanon.

The city' s proximity to the Lebanese town of Ersal has made it a main smuggling route of weapons and armed men into Homs, Ibrahim said, adding that regaining control over the strategic city would deprive the armed rebels of their main supply line and would deal a heavy blow to their very existence in Homs and central Syria as a whole.

In a related development, Russian, U.S. and UN officials would meet Wednesday for a tripartite meeting in Geneva to prepare for an international conference on Syria to try to find a political solution to the 26-month-old conflict.

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