Beirut-Conflicting reports have emerged lately about the decision of the so-called Hezbollah party to abandon its fight in Aleppo and its countryside.
Reports published by an Italian news agency on Wednesday said the party had already informed the Syrian regime that it refused to continue the battle because it would be impossible to control the city.
However, sources from the Free Syrian Army asserted that “until now, the party’s fighters have not withdrawn, either from Aleppo or from its southern countryside.”
Also, a Lebanese source close to the so-called Hezbollah had announced that the “battle in Aleppo is long and costly, and the party does not have the intention to withdraw.”
In a report published Wednesday, Italy’s news agency Aki said: “Militias from the Lebanese (Hezbollah) and others from Afghanistan and Iraq that have been supporting the regime and its militias, rejected to continue the attack on the city of Aleppo in northern Syria.”
The news agency spoke about strategic disputes that arose lately between regime troops that wish to continue their attempts to control the city with the support of Russian air coverage, and the militias of Hezbollah that admit the impossibility to control the city.
A source close to the party has told the Italian news agency: Hezbollah “affirmed to the Syrian forces that it needed at least around 100, 000 fighters on the ground to win the battle.”
Hussein Dahi, an embedded journalist with the so-called Hezbollah in Syria, told Italy’s news agency that the party “had sent a clear message to the regime forces concerning that issue, and informed them that Iraq’s Fallujah city, which is considered small in size compared to Aleppo, included 40,000 fighters who battled for months.”
The source said that “(Syrian) regime forces were not persuaded by this suggestion but insisted to continue fighting, and it is probable that they will soon discover they have made a mistake.”
These reports were denied by a source close to the Lebanese March 8 alliance, which is backed by Hezbollah. The source said Hezbollah “has no intention at all to withdraw from the battle of Aleppo.”
The source said such a battle is long, adding the latest military operations have shown that “both parties were strong and capable to resist for months and even years.”
The source, who refused to be identified, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “It is clear that both parties are mobilizing their troops on the ground and have political decisions to continue the battle, and it is well-known that opposition factions are supported by Turkey and other countries in the region, while the Syrian regime and (Hezbollah) receive a complete support from Russia and Iran.”
The source said both parties’ military force is similar in strength.
Despite the fact that the regime and its allies are supported by Russia and Syria’s airforce, the other team has a strong firepower, he added.
The source also said that none of the parties has an intention to withdraw, unless a political decision is issued.
A source at the Free Syrian Army said opposition factions do not believe that the so-called Hezbollah militants will withdraw from the Aleppo battle. The source told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Opposition fighters have not noticed any withdrawals from (Hezbollah) militants or other Shi’ite militias, neither in Aleppo nor in its countryside.”
He said: “Although the party is going through a crisis due to the big loss it lately witnessed in Aleppo’s southern countryside, battles are ongoing.”
The source at the Free Syrian Army added Hezbollah might be trying to drive the attention to Aleppo with an aim to defend Damascus. He said Russian air jets are still raiding Aleppo and its southern countryside, adding that the Castello Road is still the main target of the air assaults.
Meanwhile, a source from the Fatah Army told Asharq Al-Awsat that 11 factions from northern Syria would soon join their militants, including the Noureddine Al-Zanki Movement. “This move aims to empower the military operations in Aleppo and its northern and southern countryside, and to keep the southern countryside linked to the countryside of Hama and Idlib.”