Syrian rebels intensify rocket attacks into Lebanon
Rebels fighting the Syrian government are shelling villages on the Lebanese side of the border in order to curb a Lebanese group's efforts to help the Syrian regime.
In Pictures Syria's civil war: a Middle East crisis
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The increase in rocket fire over the past week comes amid heavy clashes in Syria between the Syrian Army and mainly Sunni rebel fighters opposed to President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The rebels are fighting to retain control of a string of villages located west of Qusayr, a strategically-placed Sunni-populated town five miles north of the border with Lebanon that lies in rebel hands.
Qusayr lies close to the key highway that links Damascus to the coastal city of Tartous and passes through Homs, Syria's third largest city. If the Syrian army is able to recapture Qusayr, it will strengthen the regime's grip on the highway and sever the logistical supply chain between opposition-supporting areas of Lebanon and Homs.
On the southern edge of Hermel, a group of youths scrambled over a rocky mound and craned their necks to gaze across scattered houses and scrubland to the north. Anxious motorists paused to ask bystanders what was happening.
"Another rocket has just struck somewhere nearby," said a young man standing on the side of the street gazing as other residents hurried indoors.
Syrian rebels issue threats
The rebel Free Syrian Army accuses the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah of fighting alongside Syrian Army troops and has vowed to escalate its attacks against Hezbollah in Lebanon's northern Bekaa Valley. The Voice of Lebanon Radio reported Sunday that Jabhat al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel faction, has warned that it will attack Hezbollah throughout Lebanon, including the party's stronghold in the southern suburbs of Beirut.
The Syrian opposition National Coalition Sunday urged Hezbollah to immediately withdraw from Syria, warning that the group's involvement in Syria's conflict "could drag Lebanon and the region into an open-ended conflict with disastrous consequences."