Syrian rebels plead for help as army pounds strategic Qusair

Reuters News
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Posted: May 30, 2013 4:38 AM
Syrian rebels plead for help as army pounds strategic Qusair

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebels pleaded for military and medical aid in the embattled border town of Qusair on Thursday, saying they were unable to evacuate hundreds of wounded under an onslaught from government forces backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters.

President Bashar al-Assad launched an offensive to capture Qusair two weeks ago in what many see as a bid to cement a hold on territory from the capital Damascus up to his Alawite community heartland on the Mediterranean coast.

"We have 700 people wounded in Qusair and 100 of them are being given oxygen. The town is surrounded and there's no way to bring in medical aid," said Malek Ammar, an opposition activist in the besieged town.

Rebels in Qusair sent out an appeal for support using social media outlets, saying the town near the Syrian-Lebanese border - straddling supply lines critical to both sides in Syria's civil war - could be devastated.

"If all rebel fronts do not move to stop this crime being led by Hezbollah and Assad's traitorous army of dogs..., we will soon be saying that there was once a city called Qusair," the statement said.

Syria's two-year old conflict began as a peaceful protest movement but evolved into an armed insurrection after a violent security crackdown on demonstrators. More than 80,000 people have been killed and the violence is now stoking political and sectarian tensions in neighboring countries.

(Reporting by Erika Solomon; Editing by Mark Heinrich)