The battle intensifies for the Syrian town of Qusair

President Assad has reportedly stepped up his attacks on Qusair. Photo:

The battle for a key town in Syria has reached a new intensity and has an alarming new dimension.

President Assad has stepped up his attacks on Qusair - with, it is claimed, support from Hezbollah fighters, from Lebanon.

Taking control of Qusair could give the Assad regime a vital corridor of control. From Damascus through Homs and onto Latakia. It would link the capital Damascus with the city of Homs and Latakia.

The coastal region has a large population of Alawites - the same sect as Assad. And it could be a key base for the regime if the country splits along ethnic and sectarian lines.

Middle East correspondent John Ray reports: