Syria bombs key refugee bridge
AFP BEIRUT SYRIAN forces on Tuesday bombed a bridge used as a main escape route to evacuate the wounded and refugees from the central flashpoint province of Homs to Lebanon, a monitoring group said.
“Regime forces on Tuesday bombarded a bridge near Qusayr, in Homs province, which is used by refugees and the wounded fleeing to Lebanon,” Rami Abdel Rahman, of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.
“They are trying to cut off all access routes between Lebanon and Syria, especially in the region of Qusayr and Tall Kalakh,” he added.
Both towns are in Homs province, east of the Lebanese border.
Abdel Rahman said the bridge bombed was located some three kilometers (nearly two miles) from the border and straddles the Orontes River.
Hadi Abdallah, a Syrian activist in Homs, said the bridge was the main route used to evacuate the wounded from the battered city, which has suffered a relentless onslaught by regime forces.
“The bridge was hit by artillery shells,” said Abdallah, reached by telephone from Beirut. “It can no longer be used.
“It was the main route used to transport the wounded,” he added.
The UN refugee agency said Tuesday that some 2,000 Syrians have crossed over into neighbouring Lebanon since the weekend after fleeing the violence in Homs.
Dana Sleiman, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Beirut, told AFP that 170 families had sought refuge in the village of El Fakha, located in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa region, and 50 others were in the nearby town of Aarsal.
“We are trying to verify whether there are additional people in other areas and how many have returned to Syria,” Sleiman said.
She said the UNHCR, in cooperation with local nongovernmental organisations, had distributed food, blankets and other aid to the refugees.
Sleiman said each family accounted for six or seven members.
Ahmad Moussa, a spokesman for the Committee of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon, said some 65 families had arrived in northern Lebanon on Monday, some of them having moved on from the Bekaa region.