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Battles Intensify in Aleppo, Regime Brings in 5,000 Fighters Including Iranians - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Aleppo, Beirut – Free Syrian Army’s Aleppo Operations Room announced the third stage of the military operations to break siege of Aleppo.

The opposition destroyed a tunnel used by the regime forces in Ramusa neighborhood after which heavy clashes began. The opposition was able to break the front line defenses of the regime forces and advance majorly.

On the other side, Fatah Army, among other factions is leading intensified battles on the outskirts of the Artillery College.

By so, opposition fighters can now open a new supply route to Aleppo instead of the Castello road which was cut by the regime forces on July 7.

Opposition fighters are now about 1500 meters away from breaking the siege over Aleppo and thus blocking the regime forces’ main supply route towards the western neighborhoods.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) described the opposition offensive as the largest so far, involving fighting across the divided city’s main battle fronts.

Russian airstrikes continued on the southwestern side of the city. According to the SOHR, government troops supported by Russian warplanes have put up a fierce defense and “this has slowed the offensive and allowed regime troops to retake five of the eight positions that rebels had taken since Sunday.”

Legal advisor of Free Syrian Army (FSA) Osama Abo Zeid denied SOHR reports. He confirmed that despite intensified shelling, the Russian airstrike didn’t slow rebels’ advancement. He added that other fronts will be soon liberated and the regime forces will collapse.

The sudden and quick advancement of the opposition raised several questions about whether the armed factions received new and developed weapons, but Abo Zeid denied the allegations.

FSA Advisor explained that the regime’s control over Castello road was due to the Russian airstrikes and shelling.

REGIME BRINGS NEW 5,000 FIGHTERS

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported a military source at the Syrian regime saying that about 5,000 pro-regime fighters, including members of Iranian forces and the Lebanese Shi’ite movement so-called Hezbollah, are taking part in the battle for the city, including the fighting north of Aleppo.

Abo Zeid believes that the regime wanted to head to Geneva after gaining control over Aleppo, but it had failed. “We don’t want to break Aleppo’s siege, we want to liberate Aleppo. It is the regime who will be in the weak position and therefore I don’t think that Geneva talks will happen at the date that was supposed to be set soon,” he added.

Lebanese strategic expert Khattar Bou Diab explained that since before the attempt to cease fire in February, everyone realized that Aleppo is one of the main battles this year. He added that the Syrian-Iranian ax was focused on ending the opposition in eastern Aleppo.

Bou Diab, who is also a professor of International Affairs at University of Paris, told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Aleppo will remain an important city that both parties will use on the negotiation table.

The expert believes that Syrian war can’t be solved by military and it is now within the hands of external powers, precisely U.S. and Russia.

“There is an international inclination on maintaining the status quo in Syria because of fear that the situation might aggravate rapidly,” added Bou Diab.

As part of the psychological war the regime uses, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) announced that dozens of families left the eastern parts of Aleppo and some fighters surrendered to the Syrian army.

A member of the political committee of the Syrian Coalition of rebel groups, Osama Taljo said that rebels offered amnesty to members of Assad forces who turn themselves to the opposition.

Taljo stressed that all forces are working with local council in Aleppo to maintain the facilities and medical institutions. He also added that the Syrian Coalition is taking all necessary measures to protect the civilians.