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Syria Today: The Battle for Qusayr Continues

Insurgents fighting in Qusayr

Middle East Today: US Protests Israel Legalisation of 4 West Bank Outposts
Monday's Syria Today: The Battle for Qusayr

Monday brought more of the same in competing claims over the battle for Qusayr, near the Lebanese border and 18 miles from Homs: the Syrian military and State media asserted that most of the town had been taken, while opposition activists insisted that the attacks had been repelled.

State news agency SANA listed the names of a dozen insurgents who had supposedly been slain:

Army units restored stability to the Local Stadium area, some parts of the western area, Municipality HQ, the Cultural Center, the Church, al-Baladyeh roundabout and al-Ghytta area.

There was a lack of substantial information, including on casualties, amid regime reports of more than 100 killed and opposition claims that more than 50 people had been killed by shelling and up to 28 Hezbollah activists, fighting alongside the Syrian forces, were slain.

Opposition Insists Assad Must Go

The opposition Syrian National Coalition has rejected Russian demands that, for an international conference, there should be no pre-condition of the departure of President Assad.

"We have been very clear that any transitional period must start with the departure of Assad and the heads of the security services," Khalid Saleh, the spokesman of the SNC, said Tuesday.

Saleh also said the Free Syrian Army must receive "major shipments of weapons" and "must be able to control more areas of Syria before we start thinking about the conference".

1700 GMT: 70 Killed So Far on Tuesday

The Local Coordination Committees claim 70 people have been killed today, including 26 in Damascus and its suburbs and 24 martyrs in Homs Province.

Israeli Forces Fire Into Syria

Israeli troops shot at a target in Syria today in response to gunfire near its forces in the Israel-occupied Golan Heights.

A statement said a military vehicle was damaged by shots fired from Syria but that there were no injuries. It said that soldiers "returned precise fire".

There have been a series of exchanges of fire between Syrian forces and the Israeli military, who have been in the Golan Heights since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

Russia Sets Out Firm Line on International Conference

In an interview with a Lebanese TV station, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has again supported an international conference to resolve the Syrian crisis while putting out a firm line to the US and other powers over its context and aims:

1. The "West" Has A Mistaken View of the Opposition

What about the other opposition groups --- the Syrian National Coalition [the umbrella group recognised by the US, Turkey, and European and Arab States] is far from being the only one of them? There is an external opposition which is not represented in the coalition. There is also an internal opposition, which has never left Syria and is in favor of reform from inside the country....

It is hard to persuade the opposition [the Coalition]. It, in contrast to the government of Syria, which has made quite a positive statement in response to the Russo-American initiative, has not done this but has spoken quite vaguely,

2, There Should Be No Demand for President Assad to Step Down

We welcome the agreement of the Americans, represented by John Kerry, to our blueprint for holding a conference without precondition....

We think that preconditions need to be abandoned, not because we like or do not like someone, but because it is necessary to be realistic.


The Local Coordination Committees claims that 115 people were killed on Monday, including 30 in Damascus and its suburbs, 24 in Homs Province, and 22 in Aleppo Province.

The Violations Documentation Center reports that 61,052 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since March 2011, an increase of 118 from Monday. Of the deaths, 47,580 were civilians, a rise of 76 from yesterday.

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