Army Vows to 'Crush' Rebels Across Syria after Regaining Control of Qusayr

The army vowed on Wednesday to trounce rebel fighters across Syria hours after recapturing Qusayr following a more than two-week assault on the strategic town on the border with Lebanon.

"After successive advances in the war against organised terrorists, our armed forces say they will not hesitate to crush the armed men wherever they are and in every corner of Syria," it said in a statement.

"Our armed forces have been securing and cleaning the town since dawn after a series of delicate operations," said the statement carried by state news agency SANA.

The army said the "heroic victory" sent a "clear message to all involved in the attack on Syria, headed by the Zionist enemy (Israel) and its agents in the region and on the ground.

"The armed forces are ready to face any aggression against our country.

"Our battle against terrorism will continue to bring security and stability to every inch of our land," said the army statement.

Earlier, state TV had said that regime troops "restored security and peace" after successfully dismantling the "terrorist networks" operating in the town over the last few days.

Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV, which has reporters embedded with Syrian troops, was reporting live from the town, showing images of damaged buildings. The reporter said there was no sign of fighting.

Government troops, backed by Hizbullah fighters, began a wide offensive on the strategic town, which lies near Lebanon's northeastern border, on May 19.

Both sides in the conflict value Qusayr, which lies along a land corridor linking two Assad strongholds, the capital of Damascus and an area along the Mediterranean coast that is the heartland of his minority Alawite sect.

For the rebels, who had been in control of the town shortly ever since after the uprising against Assad began in March 2011, holding Qusayr meant protecting their supply line to Lebanon, just 10 kilometres away.

In the past week, rebels in Qusayr called on fighters from all over Syria to come to their aid in the town, and foreign fighters were suspected to be playing a large role in the city's defense.

The Qusayr battle has also laid bare Hizbullah's growing role in the Syrian conflict. The party, which has been fighting alongside Assad's troops, initially tried to play down its involvement, but could no longer do so after dozens of its fighters were killed in the town and buried in large funerals in Lebanon.

Source: Agence France Presse, Associated Press, Naharnet

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