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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid