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Syria: Assad will break Damascus siege thanks to Hezbollah

Decisive battle at Lebanese border, Al Manar TV bureau chief

31 October, 19:34

    (by Alberto Zanconato) (ANSAmed) - DAMASCUS, OCTOBER 31 - ''The situation in the past three months has reversed itself in favor of government forces, and if things go according to plan the siege on Damascus could be lifted shortly'', Al Manar TV Syria bureau chief Wael Abbas told ANSAmed in an interview.

    He was referring to the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement, which is fighting alongside regime forces in the Syrian civil war.

    The great battle that could allow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to retake various rebel-held suburbs around the capital will be over a strategic corridor along the Lebanese border in the Al Qalamoun region, Abbas said. Control of this strip would mean cutting off provision lines for rebels north of the capital, and eliminating all threats on the road leading to the city of Homs and from there to the coastal region of Latakia, which is an Assad stronghold.

    Hezbollah fighters continue on the front lines. Last summer, they made a decisive contribution in wresting the town of Qusayr from rebels, cutting off the flow of arms through the Sunni Lebanese region of Arsal blocking the rebel advance towards Damascus in what was the first long-range strategic victory for the regime.

    Meanwhile in the north, the regions of Idlib, Aleppo and Raqqah remain under the control of an increasingly jihadist rebel force that is ever more in the power of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaeda affiliate. Hezbollah has never officially said how many of its militias are fighting in Syria. Abbas, whose Damascus bureau employs 40, including 14 journalists, is reticent on this issue, but he admitted that half of the 30,000 Lebanese Shiites who live in Syria have been armed and inducted into the ranks of the Party of God. However, not more than 1,000 elite troops were sent from Hezbollah in Lebanon, he added. At least 120,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war so far, the National Observatory for Human Rights said today.


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