Syria army pounds ousted rebels

2013-06-06 15:43
An image grab from a video uploaded on Youtube by Al-Qusayr Media Centre showing smoke rising from the site of an alleged rocket attack in Qusayr. (File, AFP)

An image grab from a video uploaded on Youtube by Al-Qusayr Media Centre showing smoke rising from the site of an alleged rocket attack in Qusayr. (File, AFP)

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Beirut - The Syrian army on Thursday bombarded a village where rebels and civilians fled to after being routed the previous day from the strategic border town of Qusayr, a watchdog said.

"The army is using missiles to bombard Eastern Bweida," where hundreds of civilians and injured people who escaped from nearby Qusayr have sought refuge, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"At least 500 injured people" have fled to Eastern Bweida since the start of a devastating assault on Qusayr on 19 May, said the Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers for its reports.

"Qusayr is completely destroyed, and totally deserted," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The regime "has called on Qusayr's residents to return home, but there is nothing but ruins. How are they supposed to return?" Abdel Rahman added.

Qusayr, strategically located only 10km from the Syrian border with Lebanon, was once home to more than 25 000 people.

However, thousands of them fled during the blistering 17-day assault by government forces led by fighters from the Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah.

"The rebels put up a fierce resistance, but they didn't have the means to fight back," Abdel Rahman said, referring to the rebels' poor equipment.

The rebels had held onto Qusayr for a year before being ousted on Wednesday.

They have been fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad's regime since his forces launched a bloody crackdown on Arab Spring-inspired protests that erupted in March 2011.

Read more on:    bashar assad  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings
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