Syria rebels concede defeat in battle for Qusayr
BEIRUT // Syria's rebels conceded they had lost the battle for the strategic town of Qusayr, after the army claimed it had seized total control of it and the surrounding region.
At the same time, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighters from Hizbollah, who had spearheaded the regime's assault, were in control of the town.
Control of Qusayr was vital for the rebels as it was their principal transit point for weapons and fighters from neighbouring Lebanon.
It is also strategic for the regime because it is located on the road linking Damascus with the coast, its rear base.
"Yes our brothers, this a round that we have lost," the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution said on its Facebook page, but rebels seeking to oust President Bashar Al Assad "will continue to fight the thousands of Lebanese mercenaries."
Earlier, Syria state television said the army "totally controls" the strategic region of Qusayr after an offensive against rebel fighters that lasted almost three weeks.
"The Syrian army totally controls the Qusayr region in Homs province after killing a large number of terrorists and capturing others," the report said, using the regime's terminology for the rebels.
The Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of activists and medics on the ground, also confirmed that Qusayr had fallen.
"The army and Hezbollah have succeeded in taking Qusayr after an intense bombardment of the town overnight," it said. "The rebels have withdrawn to other areas because they were short of ammunition."
Official news agency Sana said the army had "reestablished total security in the town of Qusayr," while Hizbollah's Al Manar television, which has a correspondent on the ground, said the rebels had fled north toward the nearby villages of Dabaa and Buweida Al Sharqiya.
The Observatory said fighting continued in Dabaa and in Buweida Al Sharqiya, the last village under rebel control in the area.