News / Middle East

Hezbollah Forces Help Syrian Regime Win Key Battle

FILE -- Hezbollah leader sheik Hassan Nasrallah, left, speaks with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Feb 25, 2010. (AP Photo/SANA)
FILE -- Hezbollah leader sheik Hassan Nasrallah, left, speaks with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Feb 25, 2010. (AP Photo/SANA)
Hezbollah forces from Lebanon have helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad win a major victory in a two-month long battle for control of two key strategic suburbs on the outskirts of Damascus, handing a setback to rebels, who military analysts say had hoped to launch an offensive on the Syrian capital. 
 
On Thursday, Syrian State television announced the overrunning of the southeast suburb of Hatetat al-Turkman. The suburb is near a crucial road running by Damascus’ international airport. Opposition activists acknowledged the Syrian army advance there and in the suburb of al-Thiabiya and at Husseiniya, a Palestinian refugee camp.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group that relies on a network of incountry opposition activists for its information, said Hezbollah fighters and Shia Iraqi militiamen were heavily involved in the battle.  Hezbollah is backed by Assad's ally Iran and since the spring has been in the vanguard of several key ground-battles, including the recapturing by Assad forces in June of the strategic town of Qusair overlooking Syria’s border with Lebanon.

The Observatory said it had confirmed that at least 17 rebels were killed in the fighting in Hatetat al-Turkman, including several from al-Qaida affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The reports of Hezbollah involvement were echoed by a senior commander of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on Thursday.  Speaking at an annual conference in Herzliya, Israel sponsored by the The Jerusalem Post, Major General Noam Tibon commander of the IDF Northern Corps said Hezbollah is the “elite force fighting today against the rebels in Syria.”  

Hezbollah helps push rebels away from Damascus

Since midsummer Assad’s military have launched intense bombardments of the southern suburbs with the aim of strengthening major government supply lines and to ensure rebels are unable to consolidate their brigades and launch attacks on the city center, says Aram Nerguizian, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington DC-based think tank.

Earlier this year rebels were launching regular bomb and rocket attacks on the city center but in the last couple of months they have fallen off.

“It should come as no surprise that Hezbollah and other regime allies are supporting Syrian army operations intended to push back rebel forces away from the capital,” Nerguizian said. Of the apparent breakthroughs he believes the advance in Hatetat al-Turkman likely the most important.

“If there are real successes here – successes the regime can hold onto and build on – it will ensure continued regime access to Damascus airport. It will also make it that much more difficult for the opposition to maintain a viable military presence in the north-south ‘corridor’ the regime has worked to consolidate.”

Rebels have carved out their own territory in Syria’s northeastern provinces but have struggled this year when it comes to gaining a foothold in the west and center of the country. As well as being launch-points for attacks on the center of Damascus, the southeastern suburbs are crucial for rebels, if they want to link up through the center of the country with rebel-held northeastern provinces such as Aleppo.

By controlling Hatetat al-Turkman, Assad forces can squeeze rebel supplies to other rebel-held suburbs to the east, said the Syrian Observatory.

Rebel recriminations

The loss of al-Thiabiya and Husseiniya – they are located between two main highways running south to neighboring Jordan and near the Shia shrine at Sayida Zainab -- has triggered recriminations between rebel fighters, according to opposition activist Rami al-Sayyed.

Local rebel brigades had called on other militias to reinforce them but to no avail. “They were let down. The loss of these districts is largely due to lack of coordination and the reluctance to assist the defenders,” Sayyed said.

Lack of coordination between the fractious rebels has plagued the two-and-half -year uprising against Assad. “With the rebels we are talking about 120,000 fighters but they are 120,000 fighters with a command and control and communication structure that is at the level of the First World War,” said U.S. military analyst Nerguizian.

He adds even when the rebels appear to be holding a strong military advantage they are failing to exploit it. “So a lot folks would look, for example, at a Syrian garrison and say there are 200 Syrian personnel who are surrounded by thousands of fighters and surely it is a matter of time before the garrison is overrun by a mass wave event. But in the two-and-half year conflict we haven’t seen many such events because the rebels are just not able to do them.”

Al-Thiabiya and Husseiniya were hit by multiple rocket attacks this week ahead of a ground assault led by Syrian army tanks and Hezbollah fighters, according to opposition activists.

On Friday, Assad’s artillery sought to exploit their advances with a redoubled shelling of other eastern and southern suburbs such as al-Kaboun and al-Ghouta, according to Ugarit News, an online Syrian opposition news outlet.

In retaliation for Thursday’s strategic setbacks rebels launched a rocket bombardment town of Ghasula, just over a mile from the international airport, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement. The attack hit a gas pipeline feeding a power station and triggering a power cut to the capital.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
October 25, 2013 9:31 PM
There is 3 groups of terror in Syria. Bashar al Assad, Hezzbolah, and Al Qaeda. The only decent people fighting for Syria is the FSA which was formed by defected Syrian Soldiers in the SAA that refused to murder civilians and destroy every city, town and village in Syria. When Syrians stand up for human rights violations against Syria by Bashar al Assad, they join the FSA.
In Response

by: Anon
November 04, 2013 1:27 AM
FSA is decent, except when they're eating the lungs and organs of dead bodies of course!

by: Nato Isaac Wabwoba from: Kenya-Mombasa
October 25, 2013 1:33 PM
In the name of the LORD, stop the war now. Let the current leader unite the people and hold a free election. GOD is great .

by: Maj. Suleiman from: Turkey
October 25, 2013 12:38 PM
how long would you give for the Hizbullah to start slaughtering Syrian military personnel...??? hey fool, Hizbullah is a terrorist organization sponsored by Iran..!!! do you really think that they will be "kind" to the coalition of ethnic and religious minorities comprising Assad support...?? if you think that they will... you have no idea of Islamic depravity yet... but you will - soon...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More