Up to 3,000 Iranian-backed fighters, including members of the Lebanese-based narco-terrorist group Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have joined the Syrian troops and their Russian allies to launch a massive ground and air offensive against the rebel-held sector of Aleppo city, reports Fox News.
Tuesday’s attack, which includes an air blitz by Russian warplanes, military loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and Iranian-organized ground troops, destroyed the U.S.-backed ceasefire, prompting The Huffington Post to report:
If President Barack Obama didn’t realize that when he made a ceasefire deal with Russia, then Vladimir Putin bamboozled him. Or Obama bamboozled himself.
According to the Pentagon, the United States is not conducting any military operations in Aleppo city now or in the near future.
“There are no prospects for political solutions… the final word is for the battlefield,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, chief of the Hezbollah Shiite fighters, was quoted in a Lebanese newspaper as saying on Tuesday, reports Reuters.
Ali Shamkhani, head of Iran’s National Security Council, was also reportedly quoted Tuesday as saying Aleppo’s fate would be determined only “through a forceful confrontation.”
The Shiite militias, which include fighters from neighboring Iraq and Lebanon as well as Afghanistan, entered the Aleppo fray amid an onslaught of Assad and Russian airstrikes targeting a rebel-controlled area that is home to an estimated 250,000 trapped civilians.
“What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counter-terrorism, it’s barbarism,” said U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power during a United Nations Security Council emergency meeting convened Sunday. “It’s apocalyptic what is being done in eastern Aleppo.”
Blaming deep divisions between Russia and the Western powers, the UN council failed to take any action.
Many of the Iranian-backed fighters had already been in Syria but were only recently deployed to Aleppo, points out Fox News. State-sponsor of terrorism Iran has been accused of forcing some Afghan refugees residing within its borders into fighting and dying on behalf of Assad in Syria. Other Afghans are being offered money by Iran to leave Afghanistan and fight in Syria.
The ground component of the attack against several fronts of rebel-held areas in Aleppo launched by a coalition that includes Syria, Russia, and Iran, is “the biggest ground assault yet in a massive new military campaign that has destroyed a U.S.-backed ceasefire,” notes Reuters.
Despite the hundreds of thousands of civilians being starved and now attacked from the air and the ground by a coalition of Russian, Syrian, and Iranian-backed fighters, the United States is sitting out the blitz on Aleppo city, Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Monday.
One year ago this week, Russia began launching airstrikes against Syrian targets in support of Assad. The Russian air campaign came a day after Putin met with President Barack Obama. As it began its bombing offensive, Russia demanded that U.S. warplanes exit the Syrian airspace immediately.
Russia has gotten its wish to an extent. The United States has turned a blind eye to Aleppo city, capital of a province of the same name in northern Syria that has been at the epicenter of the more than five-year-old Syrian conflict.
Prior to the war, the provincial capital was Syria’s biggest city, but now it is divided into a western zone held by Assad troops and a smaller, besieged area held by rebels and home to civilians facing a humanitarian crisis.
Backed by Russia, Assad has repeatedly crossed Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons on his citizens. The Syrian war has left tens of thousands of people in just Aleppo dead and wounded.
Earlier this year, President Obama said Russia and Iran’s intervention on behalf of Assad in Syria would lead to a “quagmire.”
The U.S. now adds Tuesday’s “assault on Aleppo is proof that President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and regional allies have abandoned an international peace process to pursue victory on the battlefield after nearly six years of civil war,” points out Reuters.
“Washington, which agreed to a ceasefire with Russia this month that collapsed after a week, says Moscow and Damascus are guilty of ‘barbarism’ and war crimes for targeting civilians, health workers and aid deliveries in air strikes,” it adds.
Pushing rebels out of Assad would give the dictator his biggest victory yet of the war and deliver a powerful blow to his rivals. Some rebels who received U.S. military assistance are still fighting in the provincial capital of Aleppo and elsewhere in northern Syria.