Syrian rebels have confirmed reports that government troops have regained control of the strategic town of Qusair, near the Lebanese border. This follows a government offensive against rebel fighters that lasted nearly three weeks.
The television reports said on June 5 that "the Syrian army totally controls the Qusair region in Homs Province after killing a large number of terrorists and capturing others."
The regime describes the rebels as "terrorists." Rebels said in a statement that they withdrew from Qusair "in the face of this huge arsenal and lack of supplies and the blatant intervention of Hizballah."
Last month, the pro-Iranian Lebanese Shi’ite militant group Hizballah announced that its fighters had joined government forces in the battle for Qusair.
The town was seen as important to the rebels, who relied on it to move in arms and fighters from Lebanon.
U.S., Russia To Meet Amid Concern Over Chemical Weapons
Meanwhile, in related news, envoys from the United States and Russia are due to meet to discuss preparations for a planned international peace conference aimed at ending the Syrian conflict.
The talks come one day after United Nations investigators said they believed both sides in the Syrian conflict have used chemical weapons.
UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is expected to also take part in the talks between U.S. and Russian diplomats in Geneva on June 5.
On June 4, UN investigators said evidence suggested there are "reasonable grounds" to believe chemical weapons have been used by both President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and opposition rebels.
France said its own investigation found that the Syrian government had used the nerve agent sarin as a weapon.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France was considering all options, including military action, in response.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP