Syria

‘Hundreds of militants enter al-Qusayr’

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Hundreds of foreign-backed militants fighting the Syrian government forces have reportedly entered the western strategic city of al-Qusayr.

“Around 1,000 fighters from across Syria” have penetrated the city near the Lebanese border, head of the so-called Syrian National Council George Sabra told reporters in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Friday.

Sabra did not elaborate when the militants entered the city, located about 35 kilometers (22 mile) south of Homs Province.

The militants have been deployed to Qusayr after Syrian soldiers supported by Hezbollah fighters have gained major advantages against the foreign-backed militants in the flashpoint city in the recent weeks.

On Friday, Syrian Army forces drove back a group of militants who were attempting to enter the country from the Lebanese border through the al-Sirhaniyeh neighborhood of al-Qusayr.

According to SANA news agency, Syrian government forces confronted the militants, killing a large number of them. Some of the gunmen managed to flee back into Lebanon.

On Thursday, the Syrian Army made more gains in its fight against foreign-backed militants in Qusayr, and established their control over the towns of Brak, Jawadieh and Arjoun on the outskirts of the city.

Syrian government forces are now in control of most parts of the flashpoint city.

Syrian troops entered Qusayr from several directions on May 19 after weeks of clashes with militants. The army has kicked off the second phase of its operation in the city after successfully concluding the first phase of the battle.

Qusayr has been an important center and supply route for the foreign-sponsored militants fighting against the Damascus government.

Syria has been gripped by a deadly unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of government forces, have been killed in the violence.

Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.

The Syrian government says the West and its regional allies including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are supporting the militants.

Several international human rights organizations have accused militants operating in Syria of committing war crimes.

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