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Inside Syria

What next after the fall of Qusayr?

We look at how the balance of power has shifted after Syrian soldiers retook a strategic city from the rebels.

Last Modified: 09 Jun 2013 15:34
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It has been a week of military gains for the Syrian government whose soldiers won an important battle against the rebels after long and intense fighting.

President Bashar al-Assad's forces regained control of Qusayr - the strategic city near the border with Lebanon. The main opposition coalition conceded defeat but says the uprising will go on.

The Free Syrian Army withdrew mostly for humanitarian reasons, not because of military defeat - because the shelling was extremely heavy and there was a heavy casualty among the civilians.

Saleh Mubarak, a member of the opposition SNC

The city had been under the control of opposition forces since last year but the rebels were pushed out by the Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon.

Thousands had already fled the city, but what has happened to many others is unknown. Qusayr is strategically important because the rebels used it to smuggle weapons into Syria through Lebanon and the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, on the diplomatic front, the UN special representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, confirmed that an international conference to be held in Geneva has been delayed. It will not take place until July at the earliest.

But the country may be a step closer to receiving military aid from Europe. In May, EU foreign ministers revised some of their sanctions against Syria.

The asset freeze against al-Assad and his close aides will stay in place and Syria will continue to face EU restrictions on trade and finance. But the weapons embargo ended on June 1. Still, no shipments are expected until August, at the earliest.

Finally, the United Nations has appealed for a record amount of humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees. It wants $3.9bn dollars on top of the $1.5bn it asked for earlier this year - which is a total of $5.4bn.

The UN's humanitarian aid chief, Valerie Amos, told Al Jazeera what she believes is at stake: "I think the world does feel for the people of Syria. It's appalled by the brutality. There's no doubt this is a lot of money but we are going to go all out to raise it."

To discuss the latest developments, Inside Syria, with presenter Ghida Fakhri, discusses with guests: Robert Densemore, a defence and military analyst, and the editor of Defence Report - an online publication about global defence and security; Aron Lund, a writer and Syria analyst; and Saleh Mubarak, a member of the opposition SNC.

"I am worried that the nature of the conflict may have reached and passed a tipping point and that now this is very much a full-scale sectarian conflict - there is no doubt that President Assad has initiated this by recruiting Hezbollah forces and inviting Iranian aid and forces into his country ... The problem is that the worst thing that can happen right now is for Assad's regime to fail because now that we have reached this point of inviting foreign fighters in on both sides - both Sunni and Shiite - this is no longer about achieving democratic ends to the protests that began two years ago."

- Robert Densemore, a defence and military analyst

 

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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