Backed by Russia, Iran, battle-weary regime forces strive to regain territory from Syrian rebels

Syrian army tanks making their way to the Dabaa military airfield, north of the Syrian city of Qusayr. File photo

ARA News

DAMSCUS ــ Subsequent to years of fighting, the battle-weary Syrian regime forces strive to make significant gains against rebels, backed by a Russian air cover and Iranian troops, activists reported.

After three weeks of airstrikes by Russian warplanes, Assad’s regime army and allied forces have been morally boosted, although no remarkable result is seen on ground so far, according to observers.

Military sources in Damascus promised that regaining ground will take some time, “but we are confident of advancing,” they said.

Russia, a long-term ally of Assad, has started an aerial campaign aimed at bolstering pro-regime troops, conducting more than 500 airstrikes on locations it says belong to the Islamic State radical group (ISIS).

However, several local reports confirmed that Russian attacks mainly target moderate rebels, beside bombing civilian residential areas.

“Backed by Shiite Hezbollah fighters and Iran’s elite Quds force, Syrian regime’s army launched ground offensive in Aleppo’s north, Hama and central Homs, along with the coastal Latakia as well as in Damascus countryside,” said Mazen Halabi, an activist based in Aleppo.

“The pro-regime forces have seized some villages in the suburbs of Homs, Hama and Aleppo,” he told ARA News, pointing out that Syrian army’s ground forces still suffer from “some gaps and weak spots”.

According to Halabi, some 50,000 regime troops have been killed since the start of the anti-Assad uprising in 2011.

“Pro-Assad air force has been remarkably exhausted, depending on the locally-made barrel bombs,” Halabi quoted a Syrian military expert as saying.

After more than four years of devastating conflict that has left more than 250,000 dead, Assad’s army is in control of only 30% of Syrian land.

In the meantime, the regime-held coastal province of Latakia has come under attacks by rebel factions, including al-Nusra Front (Syria’s branch of al-Qaeda), seeking to advance from the key plain of Sahl al-Ghab at the intersection of Hama, Latakia and Idlib provinces.

“Assad’s army has suffered heavy losses under fierce attacks by the rebels,” a pro-opposition military source told ARA News.

On the other hand, the regime and its allies are prepared for a long-term fight, a pro-Assad military source has said.

“The ongoing operation in Hama province will need nearly 90 days to achieve significant gains,” he said.

Amid the dramatic developments in Syria and the involvement of various regional and international powers, at the top of them Russia and the U.S., the war-torn country is apparently heading to a state divided into sectarian and ethnic regions.

Reporting by: Resho Issa

Source: ARA News

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