Middle East

Mideast media: Hezbollah opens 'new chapter' in Syria

Forces loyal to the Syrian army wave national flags as they celebrate in the main square of Qusair in Syria's central Homs province
Image caption Syrian government forces and their allies celebrated recapturing Qusair

Middle East commentators see the role of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah as decisive in helping the Syrian army recapture the town of Qusair, but not necessarily as changing the course of the war in Syria.

Iranian state television praises its Hezbollah and pro-Assad allies for "turning the table after three years of war" - very much the line taken by Syria.

Writers in countries that generally support the opposition think the Hezbollah intervention is a setback, if not a defeat, for the rebels. But there are fears the involvement of the Lebanese Shia militia may lead to a spread of sectarian conflict in the region.

Ali Qassim al-Qusair in Syria's official Al-Thawrah

"It is no secret that many Arab, regional and foreign countries were betting off-stage that the battle for Qusair was in its early stages and would take a long time to settle. Western intelligence helped paint an unrealistic picture based on information from their mercenaries... Today the Syrian army changed the prevailing picture of the Arabs in their lean years."

Rafik Khoury in Lebanon's Al-Anwar

"It is harder to ignore the sectarian dimension created by Hezbollah's role in the war in Syria, despite Hezbollah's protestation that it is fighting a pre-emptive war against takfiri [pro-Qaeda] forces... to prevent an attack on Lebanon."

Khalil Flaihan in Lebanon's Al-Nahar

"The risks to Lebanon have increased with the Hezbollah-backed Syrian forces' recapture of Qusair... Some political leaders think the risks will double if no political decision is taken and the Tripoli front [in northern Lebanon] is not secured in decisively to protect the country from the negative impact of the Syrian crisis."

Mohammad Kharrub in Jordan's Al-Ra'y

"We can say a new chapter in the Syrian crisis has begun, and all parties, in particular the regional and international capitals supporting the opposition, are reconsidering their strategy of exhausting the state and people."

Uraib al-Rantawi in Jordan's Al-Dustur

"Despite the importance of Qusair and its position in the war in Syria, the regime still has a long and thorny path ahead of it before it can regain control of rebel-run areas."

Saudi Al-Watan

"The change in the military situation once again requires the international community to address its moral responsibilities, because the conflict is no longer a question of regime versus opposition, but rather a conflict between the opposition and foreign elements backed by Iran."

Editor Abdel Bari Atwan in London's Al-Quds al-Arabi

"The 'celebrations' in southern Beirut and central Damascus after the announcement of the capture of Qusair by Syrian and Hezbollah forces after weeks of fierce fighting could mean the collapse of the Geneva-2 conference and raise the risk of Western military intervention in the Syrian crisis."

Hassan Haidar in London's Al-Hayat

"Hezbollah will remain part of the Syrian-Iranian security network, carrying out its orders, as long as it is independent of the Lebanese state and has an arsenal larger than that of the Lebanese army, which means it can trump politics with the security card at any time."

Abdel Rahman al-Rashid in London's Al-Sharq al-Awsat

"Qusair was destroyed and its people displaced, but the greatest cost will be borne by Hezbollah and Iran in terms of the blood shed there. The cost is the reversal of political concepts on the Arab street. Today the enemies are Hezbollah and Iran, and feeling is running higher than ever that Syria should be freed from the regime and its supporters like Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah."

Alex Fishman in Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth

Image caption Many streets and buildings in Qusair have been left in ruins by the fighting

"This has been a net war by Hezbollah. The Syrians provided aerial and artillery support, but the fighting was down to a thousand Hezbollah men sent to Syria for the first time in an organic framework... The unprecedented concentration of Hezbollah military effort in Qusair shows the supreme importance the organisation attaches to controlling the sector. Its proximity to the Lebanese border posed the threat of the Syrian rebellion spreading into Lebanon. Its position on the road linking the Syrian government, Lebanon and the coast made it a highest-priority target."

Muwafaq Matar in the Palestinian Authority's Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

"It looks like the bloodletting in Syria will continue, although one positive aspect of Qusair is that it has exposed those hiding behind the mask of resistance and opposition to Israel and revealed their true sectarian identity. It also shows what the Persians will do in Syria. This will be their revenge after about 1,400 years [the defeat of Persia by an Arab army at the battle of Al-Qadisiyah in 636]."

Abdel Majid Suwailim in the Palestinian Al-Ayyam

"The seizure of Qusair was a political and military rehearsal to test domestic, regional and international reaction. The silence about the blatant intervention of more than 5,000 Hezbollah fighters means the regime is free to repeat this battle in other sensitive and strategically-important areas."

Khalid Maali in the Hamas online newspaper Filastin in Gaza

"What is most worrying for us is that the [Israeli] occupation and arrogant powers will create a sectarian feud between Sunnis and Shia, which is already emerging in Syria. This would distract attention from the occupation onto blind domestic feuds that will consume everything in their path."

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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