DAMASCUS, (Xinhua): After their abject defeat on the hands of the Syrian army and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah in the central strategic city of al-Qussair near the Lebanese border, the radical Sunni rebels on Wednesday stormed a Shiite village in eastern Syria, killing 60 villagers and burning out their homes.
Radical Sunni Muslim rebels stormed the Hatla Shiite village in Syria’s eastern province of Deir al-Zour, said the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Atrocities committed in the Shiite town were carried out on sectarian basis, the Observatory said, posting a video footage on its Facebook page purporting to show the rebels boasting their killing of Shiite people in the village.
The insurgency in Syria largely consists of Sunni fighters who oppose President Bashar al-Assad’s administration that belongs to the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
In another online video footage, a Sunni sheikh appeared saying that the killing of Shiite people in Hatla came against the backdrop of the government troops’ operation in al-Qussair, which led finally to the full recapture of the strategic border city by the government troops.
The rebels’ hatred toward the Shiite people hit a new high after reports recently emerged about the involvement of Lebanon’s Hezbollah in the fight alongside the government army, especially in al-Qussair.
After recapturing al-Qussair in Homs province, the Syrian army moved its sight toward regaining other towns in the same province and in the northern key province of Aleppo. On Wednesday, the Syrian troops announced their recapture of Kafar Hamra town in Aleppo after heavy fighting.
After the report of Hezbollah’s growing involvement in aiding the Syrian troops, some Gulf states have reportedly begun expelling Lebanese Shiites over the group’s role in Syria.
The Interior Ministry in Kuwait was reportedly about to “end the residency of some 2,000 Lebanese Shiite citizens” and shut down their financial and commercial businesses.
The Kuwaiti move would soon touch off mass expulsions by other Gulf Arab nations of tens of thousands of Lebanese Shiites currently employed or running businesses in their countries, and would heighten the tension with Iran, observers said.
Gulf countries, mainly Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have emerged as the main supporters of the Sunni-led insurgency against the Assad administration amid reports that those countries have further rendered weapons and cash to the rebels.
After the sweeping victories of the Syrian troops, the Western backers of the Syrian rebels divulged their desires to stop the army from advancing against the rebels.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday that the Syrian army’s advancement in Aleppo must be halted.
“We must stop this progression before Aleppo. It is the next target of Hezbollah …” said Fabius.
“We need to re-balance things because over the past few weeks, the troops of Bashar al-Assad and especially Hezbollah … have gained considerable ground,” he said.
The comments were made amid reports that Saudi officials had held talks in France to discuss arming the rebels with weapons that could tilt the balance in their favor.
The Saudi-funded al-Arabya TV said France and Saudi Arabia had agreed during a recent meeting in Paris that the Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah should not be allowed to repeat the same scenario in Aleppo after al-Qussair.
The growing desire by the West to arm the rebels in Syria and the determination of the Syrian army to squash its opponents’ fighters have caused hopes to dwindle about a possible quick solution to the country’s long-standing crisis during a planned international conference in Geneva next month.