June 5 - Forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad claim to have dealt a major blow to rebels after ousting them from Qusair, as world leaders meet to discuss the conflict ahead of peace talks. Jessica Gray reports.
The rubble-strewn streets of Syria's Qusair city. On Wednesday, the country's state television and a channel owned by Lebanon's Hezbollah said the Syrian army had recaptured the town at the heart of fierce fighting with rebels in recent weeks. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN STATE TV NEWS READER: "The victory that came at the hands of our forces is a clear signal to all those who share in the aggression on Syria and their leaders in the enemy Zionist entity." The conquest marks a major gain for President Bashar al-Assad, who has been unable to quash a two-year rebel insurgency. Al-Manar, owned by the Lebanese militia, broadcast scenes of government troops hoisting Syria's flag as other fighters toured the ruined city. Speaking to Reuters, rebels claim they had pulled out of Qusair, an important supply stronghold for their forces along Lebanon's border. This government soldier says civilians were given safe passage out of the community before the assault was launched. Meanwhile, world leaders, including U.N. special envoy to Syria Lakdar Brahimi, met in Geneva in preparation for upcoming peace talks. The meeting with U.S. and Russia representatives comes a day after France said it had evidence that sarin gas, a chemical weapon, had been used in Syria.