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Al-Zoubi to Asharq Al-Awsat: 80 Thousand Iranian Units in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Smoke rises as Iranian protesters set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran on Jan 3

Beirut- Asaad al-Zoubi, head of the Syrian opposition delegation of High Negotiations Committee (HNC) in Geneva, said that Iranian forces are gradually arriving to battle zones in Syria. Over 11 thousand Iranian fighters had recently, boarding cargo jets, arrived at the Damascus International Airport and to Hama city, located on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria.

In his interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, al-Zoubi added that ground monitoring sources confirm the cumulative of Iranian masses currently present in Syria to be a little over 80 thousand units, which range among Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces, National army forces and paid militias.

Meanwhile, regime air and field campaign in Aleppo and Idlib governorates have remarkably intensified since May the 17th.

Syrian Civil Defense officials in Aleppo said eight people were killed and 15 others were wounded in the regime shelling on Monday night. The attack targeted the Opposition-held al-Sokkari neighborhood.

Moreover, twelve civilians were killed and another five injured late Monday in a Syrian regime missile shelling on Bidama town in Idlib province, a Syrian Civil Defense official said.

Regime forces uncovered details on their Aleppo and Idlib missions simultaneously with launching the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Vienna.

The hours-long meeting failed to reach substantial outcome.

Syria’s international envoy, Steffan de Mistura, said he was “still waiting for some type of concrete outcome” to the talks, “but we cannot wait too long. We want to keep the momentum.”

Each of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura made statements on the international Syria support group, which is co-chaired by Moscow and Washington, agreeing to back the decision on ceasefire. However, clear arguments on how to deal with the crisis took place between Russia and the U.S.

The U.S. failed in setting a date for resuming the Syria peace talks.

Moreover, de Mistura explained that he is not capable of asking both the Assad regime delegation and the Syrian Opposition delegation to return to the peace talks, so long ceasefire has not been comprehensive and imperative.

He also gave emphasis to delivering aid to deprived and besieged areas before returning to political negotiations.

While John Kerry said that all countries taking part in the (ISSG) meeting have agreed on a framework for a united Syria.

The ceasefire in Syria arranged by Russia and the United States took effect on February 27. The cessation of hostilities does not apply to organizations designated as terrorist groups by the U.N., such as ISIS, and that are outlawed in a number of countries worldwide including Russia and the United States.

On the other hand, U.N. humanitarian agency World Food Program is expected to start carrying out air drops of humanitarian aid in Syria should there be no access to the areas by June 1, Kerry said on Tuesday.

Diplomats and relief workers said it was seen as a mark of defiance against Russia, Assad’s main backer. Especially that Russia has been recently trying to put pressure on Assad to make concessions at peace talks in Geneva.

Syria has been strangled in a vicious civil war since 2011, when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unwarranted brutality.