Syrian forces and Hezbollah retake Al-Qusayr; the worried West pushes for war

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Syrian government forces, reinforced by fighters of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, have today made a major breakthrough in their fight against foreign-backed militants holding the strategic town of Al-Qusayr, which lies on the road from Damascus in the south of the country to the north-western coastal cities of Tartus and Latakia. Syrian state television and the Lebanese Al-Manar channel, run by Hezbollah, stated this morning that Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters had re-taken the town after a decisive two-week battle with rebels.

A Hezbollah fighter reportedly told news agency Reuters: “We did a sudden surprise attack in the early hours and entered the town. They escaped”, ‘they’ referring to the insurgents. Sources for the various rebel groups fighting the government in Syria confirmed that their militias had abandoned the town and retreated north to the area of Debaa, not far from Qusayr; like most rebel sources this claim is unverified. What is certain is that after two weeks of intense fighting and many casualties on both sides, the town of Al-Qusayr, a vitally important waypoint on the main arterial roads linking the north and south of the country, is back in Syrian hands. For the rebels, it is a major defeat.

This comes as France and Britain, the leading drum-beaters for intervention and war in Syria, as in Libya previously, are ramping up their spurious claims that the deadly nerve-agent sarin was used by Syrian government forces in  their fight against Islamist insurgents. Such claims cannot be seen as a coincidence in light of the major advances being made by Syrian forces throughout the country, inflicting defeats on the insurgents from al-Qusayr, to the Damascus suburbs, to the Aleppo countryside in the north, a rebel stronghold.

The French foreign minister Laurent Fabius claimed today that “there is no doubt that the regime and its accomplices” used the gas against insurgent fighters. “All options are on the table,” he added. “That means either we decide not to react or we decide to react including by armed actions targeting the place where the gas is stored.” These inflammatory statements, based on nothing but supposed tests on urine samples smuggled out of Syria by French journalists, come just a few days after British foreign minister William Hague, one of the leaders of the military-interventionist tendency among western governments, pressured the EU to allow its arms embargo against Syrian insurgents, many of whom are affiliated to al-Qaeda and other Islamic radical groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, to lapse, opening the door for direct arms supplies for such groups from the west.

Although this move is not as major a development as the western media make it out to be, western-supplied arms having being flowing into Syria through western-allied gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar since the beginning of the conflict, it is still highly worrying when added to the latest propaganda over chemical weapons coming from the French. It is a clear sign that western governments, led by the EU and followed, it must be admitted, somewhat reluctantly by the United States, are piling on the pressure and psychological softening-up of their home populations for eventual military action in Syria, to take the heat of their embattled and battered proxy forces there. One has only to recall Colin Powell, US Secretary of State in 2003, waving his little vial of anthrax at the UN Security Council, insisting the world follow the US into a war in Iraq that claimed over a million lives, all based on utter lies and fabrications of ‘chemical weapons’ and ‘weapons of mass destruction’. Are we really so naive to believe such theatrics again?

The military defeats being suffered by the retreating rebels in Syria may force western governments, against some of their better judgments, to become directly embroiled in the conflict that they started, but it will not be so easy for them to destroy the Syrian state as it was for them to obliterate isolated Libya. The Syrian government and Syrian Arab Army, crucially backed by Russia and Iran, countries determined to stem the advance of western influence in the Middle East, is on the offensive, its morale is high, its troops motivated, and it reportedly has the support, according to NATO, of the majority of the Syrian people.

Whether or not the western imperialists will take the chance of direct intervention in Syria is open to debate; but what is certain now is that the insurgent forces they are backing in the country cannot win without it.

Photo rights: Al Alam