A picture taken yesterday shows a heavily damaged sign at the entrance of Dabaa, a village north of Qusayr. Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad reclaimed control of the village on Thursday, Syrian state television said.




A Muslim union headed by Doha-based scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi yesterday called for a “Day of Rage and Support” for rebels fighting Syrian regime troops.

The Association of Muslim Scholars urged its millions of supporters to demonstrate, stage peaceful sit-ins, make speeches and pray for the Syrian rebels on June 14.

The association strongly condemned “the horrific crimes... committed by the Syrian regime, with support from Iran and its tails in Lebanon, in Qusayr”, the town rebels were ousted from on Wednesday.

Syria’s 26-month civil war erupted after forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, who belongs to the Alawite offshoot of the Shia sect, waged a bloody crackdown on democracy protests.

The conflict pitting regime forces backed by Iran and the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah against insurgents, has killed at least 94,000 people.

On Thursday, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia urged governments and fellow clerics to punish Hezbollah for its intervention in the war.

Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh said Hezbollah’s actions vindicated the kingdom’s long suspicion of the group and its alliance with Iran.

“We urge all politicians and clerics to take substantial measures against this repulsive sectarian group (Hezbollah) and all those backing it,” al-Sheikh said in a speech carried by the official SPA news agency.

He supported Qaradawi’s stance.

Qaradawi “has returned to the stance taken by the kingdom’s top scholars and which was clear on this sectarian repulsive movement ever since it was created,” al-Sheikh said.

“We support” Qaradawi in his stance and call on “all clerics of the Muslim world to stick together and co-operate during this critical moment in history”, he added.

Qaradawi said recently that he had been at fault for previously backing Hezbollah and urged Muslim volunteers to join the Syrian rebels.

The six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) warned last Sunday that it could take measures against Hezbollah.


Record aid appeal


The UN warned yesterday that half of all Syrians will need humanitarian aid by the end of 2013 and launched what it said was the largest emergency appeal in history to cope with the civil war crisis.  “Syria as a civilisation is unravelling,” said the UN high commissioner for refugees, Antonio Guterres, announcing the call for some $5bn before the end of the year. 

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