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 Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs