Syrian rebels told NOW that the Al-Qusayr Brigades foiled, for the time being, Hezbollah’s operation to storm villages in Syria’s Homs province, amid escalating rhetoric over the Shiite party’s involvement in the Syria conflict.
“Hezbollah began an operation [on Saturday] to overrun villages in Homs [province], which is where the Syrian regime shelled areas in Al-Qusayr while armored vehicles entered the country and Hezbollah snuck from Tal al-Nabi into Al-Radwaniya,” the Revolution General Committee’s spokesperson Ahmad al-Qasir said on Monday.
He continued: “They then stormed the village of Al-Borhaniyya, whose residents had fled to Al-Qusayr toward the west bank of the Al-Assi River.”
“However, the Al-Qusayr Brigades took back the towns of Abou Houri and Al-Mouh and destroyed two Hezbollah ZSU-23-4 ‘Shilka’ vehicles. Clashes have continued and shelling is ongoing,” Qasir added.
Qasir also stressed that “the Al-Qusayr Brigades foiled Hezbollah members’ attempt to storm Al-Qusayr, after which the Hezbollah militants retreated towards towns located on the west side of Al-Assi River.”
Meanwhile, a source with close ties to Hezbollah told NOW that the Shiite party was not occupying Syrian border towns in the Homs province.
“The Syrian regime’s army have occupied these towns in collaboration with young men who are residents of the towns themselves.”
The same source stressed that “the shelling targeting Lebanese villages is coming from the Joussi area across the border from the [Lebanese Beqaa town of] Arsal where the Free Syrian Army and Al-Nusra Front are located.”
Hezbollah has been reportedly fighting on the side of the Syrian regime against rebels in the Homs province and outside Damascus, with news outlets in the past two weeks reporting that a number of party members had been killed in clashes in Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Monday said that elite fighters from Hezbollah are leading the fight against rebels in the region of Al-Qusayr in the central province of Homs.
Newly appointed interim chief of the Syrian National Coalition George Sabra late Monday said “Hezbollah's role in fighting in the central Syrian province of Homs is a "declaration of war against the Syrian people.”
Over the weekend, Syrian regime forces retook control of a string of strategic villages in the region, which is along the border with Lebanon, raising fears among rebels that the town of Al-Qusayr itself, a stronghold of the uprising, could fall into government hands.
Fighting in the area has spilled over into Lebanon, with rebels reportedly targeting border towns inside Lebanon in response to Hezbollah involvement in the conflict.
The Shiite party has acknowledged that its members living in Syrian villages on the border with Lebanon have taken part in battles against "armed groups" in self-defense. However, it refuses to discuss allegations by Syrian rebels that it has sent fighters from Lebanon to bolster the forces of its ally, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.
This article is a translation of the original Arabic