Syrian forces have essentially ousted the rebel forces from the town of Qusayr along the Lebanese border after a protracted and bloody battle, and only a small remnant of the town remains under rebel control.
The defeat is a major psychological blow for the rebels, and is also a sign of Hezbollah’s growing involvement, as the Lebanese militia participated in the battle in a big way, helping the Syrian government reclaim the town.
It marked the first high-profile use of Hezbollah fighters in an offensive role, as the group had previously participated in side-battles and positioned its forces to defend Shi’ite villages and religious sites. The rebels had been using Qusayr as a means of smuggling supplies in across the Lebanese border, and repeatedly attacked Lebanese sites in retaliation for Hezbollah’s involvement in the battle.
The rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) says that the involvement amounts to a Hezbollah “invasion,” and its leadership claimed over 7,000 Hezbollah fighters have crossed the border,more than Hezbollah is believed to have overall by most estimates. They also claimed Hezbollah’s involvement meant impending “massacres” and demanded international intervention on their behalf.
The US State Department also issued a statement condemning Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War as “unacceptable” and demanded they immediately withdraw. They made no similar comments about the large number of foreign jihadists fighting on behalf of the rebellion.