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Assad Regime Claims Victory in Battle for Key Syrian Town of Qusayr

June 5, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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TRANSCRIPT

GWEN IFILL: We turn to Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad claimed a major strategic victory today in recapturing the town of Qusayr from rebels.

We have a report narrated by Neil Connery of Independent Television News.

NEIL CONNERY, Independent Television News: Syrian army tanks roll into the heart of Qusayr, this key town which both sides have fought over now firmly in the grip of President Assad’s forces.

State television making the most of this victory against the rebels — the regime’s view that whoever controls Qusayr controls the center of Syria. The fierce battle here has seen fighters from the Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah cross into Syria and fight alongside the regime’s forces, their intervention proving too much for the rebels.

“We have nearly 1,000 wounded people here,” this man says, “but the outside world has forgotten us.”

The Syrian regime is hailing this as a vital strategic victory. Qusayr dominates an important cross-border supply route in and out of Lebanon. But Qusayr is also the key to controlling the central area of Syria around Homs and the corridor which links Damascus to President Assad’s Alawite heartland around the northern coastal city of Latakia.

I managed to travel to Qusayr last year and saw Syrian tanks and troops during a brief lull in the fighting. But even then, people feared President Assad’s forces would take revenge on the town for supporting the rebels.

MAN: Maybe two or three weeks, not more. And he will come back to shouting and shelling.

NEIL CONNERY: They did come back, and, today, Qusayr is once again under the control of Syrian forces.