Dana El Baltaji
May 22, 2013

Communities inhabited by Shiite Muslims and President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite minority will be “wiped off the map” if the strategic city of Al-Qusair in central Syria falls to government troops, rebel forces said.

“We don’t want this to happen, but it will be a reality imposed on everyone,” Colonel Abdel-Hamid Zakaria, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army in Turkey, told Al-Arabiya television yesterday. “It’s going to be an open, sectarian, bloody war to the end.”

Fighter planes and heavy artillery pounded the city today, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in an e-mail. It said two people were killed during clashes between rebels and government troops backed by Hezbollah fighters, bringing the death toll from clashes at Al-Qusair in the last three days to more than 90.

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