Some 80 thousand military forces trained by Lebanese Hezbollah were preparing to launch a ground offensive to recapture Syria’s commercial city of Aleppo.
According to a report in the UK-based Sunday Times, a Hezbollah commander said the fighters belonging to Syria’s National Defense Force (NDF) have been taught “to fight street by street.”
The fighters were also trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the newspaper added.
The commander on Sunday said Hezbollah will not deploy its fighters in Aleppo, but will only provide tactical support for forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“The battle for Aleppo will be fought by the NDF and the Syrian army, with Hezbollah supervising and providing military tactical advice on how to coordinate and conduct the offensive,” the Hezbollah commander said as quote by Sunday Times.
“It will consist mainly of commanders and experts advising and planning together with the Syrian army’s commanders in charge of Aleppo, on how best to utilize the men on the ground, how to advance and where to fight,” he added.
The planned assault on Aleppo aims to drive back Syrian opposition fighters who have been in control of the country’s second city.
Earlier this month, Assad forces regained control over the strategic town of Qusayr in Homs with the help of Hezbollah’s militia.
Regaining Aleppo “would strengthen the growing impression” that Assad is winning the war, the newspaper said.
On Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his militia’s intervention in Syria came in response to a “global project” led by the United States and Israel to control not only Syria but the Middle East as a whole.
The Hezbollah commander told the Sunday Times their group intervened in Qusayr because of the direct threat Syria’s Jabaht al-Nursa, extremist Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaeda, to Lebanon’s borders.
“Aleppo is more of a Syrian matter,” he said, adding that the group will continue its supportive efforts because it wants to “ensure the survival of Assad’s regime” to preserve what it considers “the axis of resistance” against Israel.
The Iran-backed group, a close ally of Assad, initially justified its involvement in the Syrian conflict by saying that it wanted to defend villages along the border where Lebanese Shiites live, and the Sayyeda Zeinab shrine near Damascus, which is revered by Shiites around the world.
Meanwhile, Syrian opposition activists have reported that regime forces fired 700 missiles on Sunday towards southern Damascus.
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