Assads styrker gjenerobret i nattens løp grensebyen Qusayr etter en månedslang kamp som har lagt byen i ruiner.
Dvs det var ikke regjeringssoldater, men Hizbollah-soldater, som gjorde jobben for Assad. Et sjokkangrep i morgentimene fikk opprørerne til å flykte.
Qusayr er strategisk viktig og byen har fått en symbolsk betydning, et bevis på at Assad har gjenvunnet initiativet.
The Syrian army has seized control of the strategic border town of Qusair, Syrian media and security sources say, in a major advance for President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the country’s two-year civil war.
Rebels said they had pulled out of Qusair, which lies on a cross-border supply route with neighbouring Lebanon and where they had fought fierce battles with government forces and Hezbollah guerrillas for more than two weeks.
One Hezbollah fighter told Reuters that they took the town in a rapid overnight offensive, allowing some of the fighters to flee. «We did a sudden surprise attack in the early hours and entered the town. They escaped,» he said.
Assad’s forces fought hard to seize Qusair, which had been in rebel hands for over a year, to reassert control of a corridor through the central province of Homs, which links Damascus to the coastal heartland of Assad’s minority Alawites, an offshoot of Shia Islam.
«Whoever controls Qusair controls the centre of the country, and whoever controls the centre of the country controls all of Syria,» said Brigadier General Yahya Suleiman, speaking to Beirut-based Mayadeen television.
Mayadeen showed soldiers sticking Syrian flags with photographs of Assad on piles of rubble spilling from shelled buildings across the torn-up streets.
«Our heroic armed forces have returned security and stability to all of the town of Qusair,» a statement carried by Syrian state television said.
It marked the latest military gain for Assad, who has launched a series of counter-offensives against mainly Sunni rebels battling to overthrow him and end his minority Alawite family’s four-decade grip on power.
Samtidig sier Frankrike og Storbritannia at Assad har brukt kjemiske våpen. Det er de samme landene som ville og fikk gjennom at EU opphevet våpenembargoen. Er anklagene et forsøk på å rettferdiggjøre våpenleveranser, vil noen kunne spørre seg.
A Government spokesman said: «The material from inside Syria tested positive for sarin. There is a growing body of limited but persuasive information showing that the regime used – and continues to use – chemical weapons, including sarin.
«The room for doubt continues to diminish. This is extremely concerning. Use of chemical weapons is a war crime. Assad must grant immediate and unrestricted access to the UN investigation team.»
He said Britain thought chemical weapons use in Syria was «very likely» to have been by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France 2 television: «We have no doubt that the gas is being used. The conclusion of the laboratory is clear: there is sarin gas.»
Experts had analysed samples brought back from Syria, he said.
Earlier, his ministry released a statement from Fabius in which he said «France is now certain that sarin gas has been used in Syria several times and in a localised fashion».
Although the statement did not say who had used the gas, it added: «It would be unacceptable that those guilty of these crimes could benefit from impunity.»
Later, in his televised remarks, Mr Fabius went further, saying that in at least one case, there was «no doubt that it was the regime and its accomplices».
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Washington needed to know more before declaring that sarin gas had been used in Syria.
«We need to expand the evidence we have … before we make any decision,» Mr Carney said, alluding to President Barack Obama’s stated position that use of the deadly nerve agent would be a «game-changer» for Washington.
French diplomats said the samples tested by the French laboratory had come from two locations – Jobar, a suburb of Damascus, and Saraqeb.
The samples from near Damascus were brought back to France by two journalists with the French daily Le Monde. They reported the use of chemical weapons in the area in mid-April.
There were no details on how France obtained the other sample.
Mr Fabius said he had sent their results to the United Nations, which is also investigating the issue.
UN investigators said earlier Tuesday they had «reasonable grounds» to believe that both sides in Syria had used chemical weapons, the first time they have made such an allegation since beginning their work in 2011.
It called on Syria to let UN investigators enter Syria to check for the possible use of chemical weapons. So far, the regime has denied them access.
A spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he had read the UN document and «he finds the catalogue of atrocities in that report to be both sickening and staggering».