PHOTO: Pro-Assad fighters, possibly from Hezbollah, south of Aleppo this weekend



Documenting Russia’s Troops Near the Frontlines

The battlefield south of Aleppo city — the one front where the Syrian military, covered by Russian bombing and alongside Iranian and Hezbollah forces, has advanced — dominated headlines on Sunday, with both the regime and rebels claiming success.

Pro-regime accounts claimed early in the day that the regime-Iranian-Hezbollah attacks had taken the villages of Aziziyah, Tal Mamou, and Talaylat. The gains put further pressure on the key town of al-Hadher and the M5 highway from Aleppo to Damascus, with the offensive close to the border with opposition-held Idlib Province.

However, by Sunday evening, rebels recaptured Talaylat and attacked Tal Mamou. Pro-rebel outlets said scores of regime troops had been killed, and one site claimed Tal Mamou was also retaken.

The pro-regime al-Masdar News acknowledged the rebel fightback in Talaylat but said the Syrian military held the line at Tal Mamou.

The regime-Iranian-Hezbollah offensive:

Footage from the rebel faction Ahrar al-Sham:

Covered by intense Russian airstrikes, the Syrian military has launched six offensives — five of them against rebels — in Hama, Homs, Latakia, and Aleppo Provinces since October. Except for the southern Aleppo front, the regime forces have gained little, despite Iranian and Hezbollah fighters and Iranian-commanded Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani military.

The Islamic State has countered with pressure on the regime east of Aleppo, cutting the main route into Syria’s largest city for about two weeks. In northern Hama Province, a rebel counter-offensive has not only retaken all territory but also captured regime-held areas, including the town of Morek on the Aleppo-Hama highway.

Regime Forces Close to Lifting Siege on Airbase Near Aleppo

After a month-long offensive, regime forces are close to lifting the Islamic State’s siege of Kuweires Airbase, east of Aleppo.

The Syrian military’s Cheetah Forces moved into the town of Sheikh Ahmad on Monday and are now less than 2 km (1.2 miles) from the airbase.

Kuweires has been surrounded since late 2012 and by the Islamic State since early 2014. Since the start of its six-front assault on October 7, the Syrian military had tried to break the siege but has been slowed by ISIS resistance and a counter-attack that cut the main route into Aleppo city.

8 Iranian Deaths in 48 Hours; 50 Killed Since October 7

Eight more deaths of Iranian troops have been reported in the last 48 hours, bringing the total to 50 since October 7.

Iranian media confirmed the casualties. Since supporting the six-front Syrian military offensive, Iran has lost six commanders, including its overall commander in Syria, and Revolutionary Guards fighters, Basij paramilitary members, and support troops.

Activists: Russian Cluster Bombs Hit Displaced Persons’ Camp in Latakia, Wound Dozens

Pro-opposition activists are claiming that Russian cluster bombs have struck a camp for displaced Syrians in Latakia Province in western Syria. Dozens of civilians are wounded, according to the Revolutionary Forces of Syria media office.

The activists say the attack may have been carried out by BM-3 Smersh rocket systems. A Jaish al-Fateh rebel said the camp was across the border from a Turkish base: “Refugee camps can be seen at the #Turkish border from higher peaks, so I heard the distinct bang with a firecracker effect.”

A wounded child:


Rebels Condemn Violence in Lebanese Border Town of Arsal

Syrian rebels have condemned violence in the Lebanese border town of Arsal, warning the Lebanese army not to be “dragged behind Hezbollah and the Assad regime’s schemes”.

The Ahrar al-Sham faction blamed the Syrian regime and Hezbollah for deaths of local people, including a group of scholars in an explosion last Thursday. One of those who died was Sheikh Omar Al-Halabi, a former Ahrar al-Sham commander.

Ahrar al-Sham also condemned a bomb targeting the Lebanese army and the army’s firing on refugee camps after the bombing, killing three Syrian women.

Arsal has been beset by violence throughout the Syrian conflict, including clashes between the Lebanese Army, the Islamic State, and Jabhat al-Nusra in August 2014 in which scores were killed on both sides and more than 30 Lebanese security personnel were abducted.

Airstrikes Destroy Textile Factory, “Largest Source of Work from Aleppo to Idlib”

A local journalist said a series of regime airstrikes on Saturday destroyed Syria’s biggest textile factory, the “largest source of work from the Aleppo countryside to Idlib”.

“The Dayri factory was an economic powerhouse,” said Bashar al-Halabi, the director of the news website Aleppo and Its Countryside Today. The plant, located near the Aleppo-Damascus international highway, manufactured polyester and employed more than 600 workers.

The Syrian military, covered by Russian air attacks and joined by Iranian and Hezbollah forces, has been trying to move from its areas south of Aleppo city to the M5 highway and back into opposition-controlled Idlib Province.

Halabi said civil defense workers rescued most of those trapped inside the factory. Thirteen workers were reportedly injured.

“The bombing of the factory leveled the last remaining economic infrastructure in Aleppo,” said the journalist.