It’s being reported that as many as 30 Hezbollah fighters along with 20 other troops loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad were killed in battle today in Qusair, a rebel-held city that was taken back by pro-Assad forces over the weekend.
The fighting in Qusair is noteworthy for a number of reasons. The first is its importance to the long-term aims of the embattled Assad.
The town, located close to the Lebanese border along a land corridor between Damascus and the Mediterranean coast, is seen as being of significant strategic value by both rebel and regime forces, and has been used to smuggle essential weapons and supplies from Lebanon across the porous frontier to opposition fighters inside Syria.
Qusair is also part of a coastal enclave that is the heartland of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, and the capture of Qusair and surrounding towns and villages has become a key objective for government forces.
Days of fighting in Qusair also were said to have claimed Fadi al-Jazzar, a Hezbollah commander, who was among hundreds of prisoners released by Israel in 2004 in exchange for the bodies of three IDF soldiers and a kidnapped Israeli businessman.
Jazzar, a Beirut native, was arrested by the Israeli military after launching the 1991 attack on the Israel-Lebanon border and sentenced later that year to life in prison for membership in an illegal organization, military training, and firing at a person, according to the Israeli Ministry of Justice website.
Update: A commenters adds, “Reports in Israel today put the number of dead Hezbollah soldiers at 100-120, and many more wounded. Hezbollah put out a call for blood donations among the residents of its Dahiyah stronghold, which is usually indicative of many many wounded.”