Syrian Regime, Opposition Brace for Resumption of Battle for Key City

Syrian army soldiers patrol in government-controlled Aleppo's al-Khalidiya area where the army progressed towards the industrial zone of al-Layramoun and Bani Zeid on June 28, 2016. Aleppo was once the country's commercial hub but now lies divided between government forces in the west and rebels in the east. / AFP …

TEL AVV – The Syrian regime and opposition have been bracing for another looming battle on Aleppo, the second-largest city in the country, which is likely to become a turning point in the 5-year civil war, the 21Arabi website reports.

If the Syrian army takes the city, it will be free to advance towards Idlib, near the Turkish border, an important station for armament and recruits for the opposition.

The website quoted sources in Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Syrian opposition saying that “thousands of warriors” are rushing to Aleppo, as well as Hezbollah fighters and Iraqi militiamen stationing around the city.

This week, after many days of fierce fighting, the rebels in the city’s east broke the siege that had been imposed on Aleppo by the regime for weeks, effectively cutting them off from other rebel strongholds. Fighting the regime from inside the city as well as outside, the rebels made holes in the army’s deployment.

Battles were raging outside the city on Tuesday as well, with the pro-regime media reporting on Syrian, Russian and Hezbollah artillery strikes and air raids on central districts held by the rebels.

According to reports, thousands of Syrian government and Hezbollah militia fighters were making their way to Aleppo to counter the opposition gains there.

“Hundreds of opposition fighters have also arrived in Aleppo from the [neighbouring] province of Idlib to help in the expected battles,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Last week, Brietbart Jerusalem quoted an Arab intelligence source as saying that Western and Arab military experts are training rebels in Jordan in the event that Aleppo would look set to fall and they’ll be required to be called in as backup.

Iran’s rivals in the Arab world fear that a victory for the regime in Aleppo would give tailwind to Iran’s desire to increase its foothold in Syria and the rest of the Middle East .