Hezbollah, Assad Make Massive Push Into Key Town

Israel threatens more strikes as battle for Qusair rages
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2013 4:10 AM CDT
Updated May 20, 2013 7:12 AM CDT
Hezbollah Helps Syrian Army Push Into Key Town
Syrian rebels prepare to repel a coordinated attack by government forces in Qusair, Homs province, Syria yesterday.   (AP Photo/Qusair Lens)

Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon have taken their most prominent role yet in the Syrian civil war, fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad's forces as the military attempts to regain control of a strategic rebel-held city near the Lebanese order. Activists say at least 23 members of the Iran-backed militant group have been killed in the fight for Qusair and more than a hundred wounded, the AP reports. After days of shelling, government forces now control 60% of the city, according to state media.

The battle, which both sides describe as one of the fiercest of the war, is seen as a potential turning point because Assad is believed to consider control of Qusair key to regaining control of the north and east of Syria—or to consolidating his hold on the west, splitting the country, the New York Times reports.The involvement of Hezbollah has raised fears of a regional conflict even further, and Israel has threatened more airstrikes unless the militia is reined in, Reuters reports. (Read more Hezbollah stories.)

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