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Syria opposition urges rebels to join Qusayr battle

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Syria's opposition urged fighters across the country Wednesday to "rush to the rescue" of rebel stronghold Qusayr and appealed to the international community to set up a humanitarian corridor to the embattled town.

Acting National Coalition opposition chief George Sabra issued the call for rebel reinforcements to the town as Syrian troops backed by fighters from Lebanon's Shiite movement Hezbollah battled for control of Qusayr.

"Revolutionary battalions and Free Syrian Army, rush to the rescue of Qusayr and Homs," Sabra said in a statement, urging rebel brigades around the country to send forces and weapons, "however small."

"We call on the international community to open a humanitarian corridor to rescue the wounded and take in medicine and assistance to 50,000 besieged people," he added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog estimates around 25,000 civilians are trapped inside Qusayr, with thousands more still in villages around the town in central Homs province bordering Lebanon.

Sabra also urged the UN Security Council "to convene an emergency meeting and go beyond expressing concern to action."

"Our country's borders and sovereignty and the lives of its citizens are being violated. We call on the Security Council to take a position equal to the seriousness of this situation," he said.

The Syrian army backed by Hezbollah fighters launched a long-expected assault against the rebel forces in Qusayr on Sunday, reportedly entering the town and seizing several municipal buildings.

The fighting has since left more than 100 people dead, the Observatory said on Tuesday, most of them Sunni rebel fighters and Hezbollah members.

The regime has made recapturing Qusayr a key objective due to the town's strategic location between the capital Damascus and the Mediterranean coast, and near the border with Lebanon.

Sabra urged the Arab League and Lebanon to prevent the continued influx of Hezbollah fighters into Syria.

"We call on the Arab League and its secretary general to take a stance befitting these events," he said, warning that Hezbollah's actions would ignite a "sectarian fire."

"Hezbollah's weapons have become militia weapons and its guns have become sectarian weapons for hire that kill women, children and the elderly," the National Council leader charged.

"We call on the Lebanese state and its political, defence and security institutions to work for the respect of the sovereignty of the Syrian state," he added.

In Damascus, Al-Watan newspaper, close to the regime, said the army was pressing on with its operations in Qusayr, "foiling attempted infiltrations from Lebanon and Jordan."

Many tunnels used to store arms and for rebel movements had been destroyed, the daily reported.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130522/syria-opposition-urges-rebels-join-qusayr-battle