News / Middle East

Syrian Troops Positioned for Aleppo Offensive

Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are on the move June 3, 2013, in what the government said was an operation against rebels in the Aleppo countryside.
Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are on the move June 3, 2013, in what the government said was an operation against rebels in the Aleppo countryside.
Syrian government forces are moving into position to launch a major offensive on the rebel-held half of the country’s biggest city, Aleppo, according to opposition activists.

They say assault is likely to feature the deployment once again of thousands of guerrillas from Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese Shia movement that is backing President Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime.

Hezbollah fighters were the key factor in the Syrian government’s capture last week of Qusair, a strategic town near the border with Lebanon – a gain that has disrupted important rebel supply lines.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia and other pro-rebel Gulf nations condemned what they described as “Hezbollah’s blatant invention in the crisis in Syria.”  In a joint statement, they said “Hezbollah’s illegal intervention and the horrific practices of its militias in the region will harm its interests.”

The statement was interpreted to mean that Saudi Arabia and its allies might implement financial and political sanctions against Hezbollah and its supporters. The statement also urged Lebanon to rein in Hezbollah, a move that could trigger another civil war in Lebanon.

According to Hezbollah’s own TV station, Al Manar, the planned assault on Aleppo has been dubbed “Northern Storm.”

Since the capture of Qusair, which had been under rebel control since last year, the Syrian government has been carrying out mopping up operations in surrounding villages. But it also has dispatched units, including Hezbollah fighters, to Aleppo.

Hard choices for Washington

The government-controlled al-Watan newspaper says the Syrian army is “deploying heavily in the countryside near Aleppo in preparation for a battle that will be fought inside the city and on its outskirts.” Opposition activists in Aleppo say they have seen reinforcements and that fighting has already intensified in some districts of Aleppo.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens to remarks at a meeting on Syria in Amman, May 22, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young (JORDAN - Tags: POLITICS) - RTXZX1YU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens to remarks at a meeting on Syria in Amman, May 22, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young (JORDAN - Tags: POLITICS) - RTXZX1Y
x
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens to remarks at a meeting on Syria in Amman, May 22, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young (JORDAN - Tags: POLITICS) - RTXZX1Y
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens to remarks at a meeting on Syria in Amman, May 22, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young (JORDAN - Tags: POLITICS) - RTXZX1Y
The launch of a major Syrian government offensive could increase the pressure on the Obama administration to speed up a decision on arming some rebel brigades. Up to now, the rebels, mainly Sunni Muslims, have been receiving weapons from the Gulf countries of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Last month, Britain and France persuaded their European Union allies to lift an embargo on arming the rebels, but both countries have so far refrained from doing so because of the ongoing effort to organize peace talks in Geneva.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry postponed a planned trip to the Mideast this week so he could join White House discussions on whether to arm rebel units, say U.S. officials. Syrian rebel leaders have been warning Washington since the fall of Qusair that they are facing irreversible setbacks in the war that has left an estimated 80,000 dead and displaced more than three million Syrians over the past two years.

Aleppo is key to Syria’s north

Syrian rebels have controlled slightly more than half of Aleppo city for a year. This, in turn, has allowed them to control most of Aleppo Province and the neighboring province of Idlib all the way to the Turkish border. Since the late autumn there has been little change in the frontlines in the city – both sides have managed little more than to hold their positions.

A European military attaché in Beirut tells VOA it will be much harder for the Assad government to push the rebels out of Aleppo, until recently a city of almost three-million residents, than it was capturing the much smaller town of Qusair.

“The rebels have strong supply lines running all the way to Aleppo from Turkey – the rebel enclave running north is their home territory,” the attaché said. “With Qusair, Hezbollah controlled much of the hinterland around.”

Rebel sources say they expect renewed air strikes on towns north of Aleppo aimed at disrupting their supply lines. They are strengthening their defenses to the south of the city in an attempt to block the government from sending armored columns into the city from the government-controlled town of Salamiyeh.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: bumper59 from: usa
June 11, 2013 10:07 PM
Carpet-bombing them by NATO or BRICS, it doesn’t matter. Carpet bombing all the Syrian cities based on DEHOUSING Churchill’s strategy. Turn them back to the Stone Age, and watch if they ever will come back.

by: richard edain from: thailand
June 11, 2013 9:33 PM
The so called 'rebels' are a motley bunch of extremist islamist organisations, including Al-Queda affiliated 'Al-Nusra Front'. Why on this earth should western nations want to support these extremists for goodness sake!!!

Each arab nation the west has intervened in so far in the inappropriately named Arab Spring has been more or less taken over by extreme islamists. So much for transitions from dictatorships to democracies... There is always an ulterior motive as to why the west, the USA in particular, wishes to overthrow these governments, Assad's included - whether it's because of them being oil producing nations or - in Syria's case - an ally of Iran...

At least Assad protected the minorities in Syria, incl Christians and Shiites - the insurgents will and have massacred them!!!!!!!!!!!

Lets keep out of Syria for heavens sake...

by: Anonymous
June 11, 2013 4:15 PM
Wow so the terrorist group hezbolah is being backed by Bashar al Assad. All the more reason the world should intervene and take out all of these criminals including Assad. Why the hell is the world doing nothing to stop Assads terror campaign???

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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