Report: Hezbollah, Syrian forces gain in assault on rebel Homs

After Hezbollah gets blacklisted by EU, UN delegation reaches deal with government to examine chemical arms claims. Hezbollah, government fighters register success in battle to retake rebel city of Homs, 50% now in government control

Regime forces backed by Hezbollah now control half of the Khaldiyeh district of Homs after ousting rebels in fierce fighting in the central Syrian city, a watchdog said on Saturday.


"Loyalist forces backed by fighters from Hezbollah have advanced over the last 24 hours and now control 50 percent of Khaldiyeh," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.


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Its chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP on Saturday that overnight, "there was continuous heavy mortar and artillery fire" and that the rebel district was still being pounded.


He said rebels were putting up "fierce resistance" amid "very intense clashes".


הרס בקרבות בעיר חומס (צילום: AP)

Destruction in Homs (Photo: AP)


Militant network the Syrian Revolution General Commission also reported heavy fighting in the district that has been besieged by regime forces for more than a year.


"Khaldiyeh is being targeted by an uninterrupted heavy bombardment, and on the ground there is fierce fighting between Free Syrian Army fighters and regime forces backed by Lebanon's Hezbollah trying to take the district," an SRGC statement said.


It and the Observatory both said the Old City district of Homs – dubbed the "capital of the revolution" against President Bashar Assad – was being pummeled too.


The latest regime offensive on besieged rebel-held neighborhoods of Homs is now in its fourth week.


Government forces are seeking to secure another victory like the one in Qusayr near the border with Lebanon in June, when Hezbollah was key in retaking the strategic town.


Hezbollah, the most powerful military force in Lebanon and a staunch ally of the Assad regime in Syria, has had its military wing blacklisted by the European Union as a terrorist group.


Meanwhile, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said talks with a UN delegation tasked with investigating chemical weapons allegations in the nation's civil war have "resulted in an agreement on ways of moving forward."


קיין מגיעה למלון בדמשק (צילום: EPA)

UN disarmament chief Angela Kane meets official (Photo: EPA)


A joint statement by the ministry and the UN that appeared on Syria's official SANA news agency's website on Saturday says the UN team met with Foreign Minister Walid Moallem earlier this week. It did not elaborate. The UN team couldn't immediately be reached for comment.


Damascus has asked the UN to investigate an alleged chemical attack in Khan al-Assal, a village in the north. The Syrian regime and rebels accuse each other of using chemical agents in a March 19 incident.


President Bashar Assad's government refused to have a possible inquiry include other alleged chemical attack sites.


AFP and the Associated Press contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 07.27.13, 13:37
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