Scott Lucas – 26 June 2016 – eaworldview – Pro-regime outlets are claiming that the Syrian military and its allies have sent elite units for another attempt to take vital territory near Syria’s largest city Aleppo. Pro-Assad forces have tried for months to encircle the city by taking a vital route near Handarat, north of Aleppo. However, the attacks have been repelled, reportedly at the cost of heavy casualties. Meanwhile, rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra have counter-attacked to the south and west of Aleppo, regaining some of the area lost to a regime-Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah offensive last autumn. On Saturday, the pro-regime Al-Masdar News claimed that the 4th Mechanized Division had launched attacks, proclaiming “Syrian Army Storms Northern Aleppo”. However, the site actually put the location of the assault in western Aleppo city, with operations in “the al-Layramoun, al-Khalidiyah, Bani Zayd, and al-Zahra districts”.
The area has been contested for more than a year, with rebels blowing up the Air Force Intelligence building in al-Layramoun in March 2015. On Friday, pro-rebel accounts said an attempt by pro-regime forces to advance in al-Zahra and Bani Zayd was defeated.
On Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the Lebanese organization would send more of its best fighters to the Aleppo battlefronts, following the recent setbacks for the pro-Assad forces:
We are facing a new wave, or a new stage, of projects of war against Syria which are being waged in northern Syria, particularly in the Aleppo region.
The defense of Aleppo is the defense of the rest of Syria. It is the defense of Damascus. It is also the defense of Lebanon, and of Iraq.
Meanwhile, Russia continued its intensive aerial operations, with more strikes north of Aleppo, including near Handarat and the al-Mallah farms, where a ground offensive failed last week.The Russians have reportedly turned to incendiary weapons and cluster bombs — both banned for use in densely-populated areas under international conventions — in the escalation of operations since April.Claimed footage of Russian incendiary bombing of Kafr Hamra, northwest of Aleppo:
Dealing with the fires:There was no word on Saturday of the status of Iranian-led units near Aleppo. Both Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Iraqi and Afghan militias have taken heavy losses in a series of defeats south of the city by rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra since early April. www.mesop.de