PHOTO: Captured Syrian forces this week after failed Aleppo offensive — do they include Iranians and Afghans?
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has turned a major defeat for President Assad’s forces in Syria into a “full and quick victory” for “liberation from terrorists”.
Reports on Thursday indicated that a surprise regime offensive north of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, had been defeated by rebels. Syrian forces — including Iranian and Hezbollah fighters, as well as Afghans paid by Iran to fight in the four-year conflict — suffered heavy casualties.
However, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian proclaimed the capture of towns and districts and asserted, “This victory heralds full and quick liberation of Aleppo from the clutches terrorists and irresponsible armed groups.”
Calling for a “political approach” to resolve the crisis, Amir-Abdollahian said, “Armed opposition linked to terrorism have no place in Syria’s future.”
He insisted, “The Syrian army’s massive operations, backed by volunteer forces, against terrorists are a sign that the days of terrorism in the Arab country are numbered.”
State outlet Press TV is also over-optimistic this morning, reporting, “The Syrian army has recently captured several villages north of Aleppo from militants, blocking a main supply route leading into the northern city.”
In fact, the Syrian forces and Iranian and Hezbollah allies are besieged in the one village they still hold. An effort to cut the supply route to Aleppo, near Handarat, appears to have ended in a heavy defeat, with the rebel faction Jabhat al-Nusra killing scores of the attackers.
Iran’s political, economic, and military support has long been vital for the survival of the Assad regime. However, in recent months, Tehran has stepped up its military involvement with commanders and fighters — reports indicate that Iranian personnel are now prominent in the Syrian military operations across the country.
At the same time, Iran’s economic backing of Assad is under strain because of Tehran’s economic problems. Damascus is appealing — so far without apparent success — for an extension of a $3.6 billion line of credit, arranged in July 2013, which is soon to expire.