World View: 80,000 Hezbollah-Trained Syrian Soldiers Ready to Retake Aleppo

This morning's key headlines from

  • 80,000 Hezbollah-trained Syrian soldiers ready to retake Aleppo
  • Hamas rebukes its former ally, Hezbollah, over Syria
  • Israel toughens law against 'Price Tag' attacks

80,000 Hezbollah-trained Syrian soldiers ready to retake Aleppo

Kuwaiti protesters burn a picture of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (AFP)
Kuwaiti protesters burn a picture of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (AFP)

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's regime's army, with some 80,000 military forces trained by Hezbollah, is preparing to launch a massive ground offensive to recapture the city of Aleppo. Hezbollah and the regime army cooperated two weeks ago in the stunning recapture of Qusair, which was accomplished by flattening the entire city with heavy weapons, killing thousands of civilians, combined with street to street fighting by Hezbollah militants. Hezbollah claims that their fighters will not be participating in the battle of Aleppo, but that it will be "supervising and providing military tactical advice on how to coordinate and conduct the offensive." The recapture of Aleppo will mark a significant turning point in the Syrian war, and might signal that the end of the war is near, with a significant victory for al-Assad, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia, and significant humiliation for Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United States. Al-Arabiya (Dubai)

Hamas rebukes its former ally, Hezbollah, over Syria

The fallout from Hezbollah's active participation in the Syrian war on the side of president Bashar al-Assad continues to grow. Most Mideast Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, used to love (Shia) Hezbollah because of its leadership in the "resistance" to Israel. But Hezbollah has opened a continually growing Shia-Alawite versus Sunni fault that's becoming increasingly vitriolic each day. Thus, the official Saudi Press Agency published a statement calling Hezbollah a "loathsome, sectarian" group. And last week, Egypt did an about-face and severed all diplomatic relations with Syria, and the Arab nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) voted to impose sanctions against Hezbollah. On Monday, Hamas, which used to be a close ally with Hezbollah and even had its headquarters in Damascus, Syria's capital city, is now slamming Hezbollah, and demanding that it withdraw from Syria. Sectarian tensions are growing across the Mideast, and the coming battle of Aleppo, and an expected Shia-Alawite victory, will only exacerbate them further. The National (UAE) and Al-Arabiya and Bloomberg

Israel toughens law against 'Price Tag' attacks

I've reported on several occasions about so-call "price tag" attacks by Jewish settlers on Palestinians in the West Bank. The phrase "price tag" is frequently used by far-right Israeli settlers to denote revenge attacks against Palestinians or IDF soldiers in response to moves by the Israeli government to evacuate illegal West Bank outposts, or as retribution for attacks by Palestinians. The attacks have usually been against mosques or other property, and sometimes even Christian property, but they've occasionally crossed the line into violence against Palestinians. However, no one has ever been prosecuted for "price tag" attacks. Israel's cabinet on Sunday issued a statement saying that "Price Tag" organizations will now be designated as "illicit organizations," which will allow the authorities to seize properties and bank accounts belonging to group members, and to take more severe measures against them in courts. However, Israel stopped short of designating them as "terrorist organizations." Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu justified this decision by saying that this Jewish group cannot be compared with "terror organizations" such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, because that also reflect badly on Israel Middle East Monitor and Reuters

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