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

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen More

10 Migrants Drown, While 4,100 Rescued off Libyan Coast

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen 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.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs