Syria claims capture of rebel stronghold near al-Kussair
Syrian government troops Saturday seized an opposition stronghold near the Lebanese border, Syrian state media reported, days after the regime forces backed by Hezbollah retook control of the nearby strategic town of al-Kussair, dpa reported.
Government troops had regained the village of Eastern Bweida on the outskirts of al-Kussair, state-run news agency SANA said.
"Our heroic Armed Forces have restored security and stability to the Eastern Bweida after eliminating the last group of terrorists there," the agency quoted an official source as saying, referring to insurgents fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
Rebels were believed to have taken refuge in the village after al-Kussair fell to regime troops and Hezbollah fighters Wednesday.
Footage on state television from the village showed massive destruction.
The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group monitoring the situation on the ground in Syria, said that government troops had advanced into the Eastern Bweida after heavy clashes with rebels.
"The Observatory is concerned about the fate of hundreds of the injured inside the Eastern Bweida," the Britain-based organization said in a statement.
A Red Cross official said that more than 30 wounded had been evacuated from al-Kussair in the past two days to receive medical treatment in Lebanon.
"We transferred 10 last night and 27 today," Samar Kadi, the spokeswoman for the Red Cross, told dpa.
She did not disclose how they had been evacuated, or if they were rebels or civilians.
Rebels reportedly use al-Kussair as a supply route from Lebanon.
Elsewhere, the main opposition Syrian National Coalition accused al-Assad's regime of using internationally banned bombs - including napalm and cluster bombs - in attacking the restive city of Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria.
"The Coalition is worried that the regime troops may perpetrate a massacre in the city and neighbouring areas, taking advantage of the United Nations inaction," it added in a statement.
The city has been under regime forces' siege for a year now, the alliance said.
International human rights groups had previously accused the Syrian government of using prohibited cluster bombs and indiscriminate methods of attack in populated areas during the 26-month conflict, claims denied by Damascus.