Assad allies, including Iranians, prepare ground attack in Syria: sources

Hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria in the last 10 days and will soon join government forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies in a major ground offensive backed by Russian air strikes, two Lebanese sources told Reuters.

“The (Russian) air strikes will in the near future be accompanied by ground advances by the Syrian army and its allies,” said one of the sources familiar with political and military developments in the conflict.

“It is possible that the coming land operations will be focused in the Idlib and Hama countryside,” the source added.

It points to an emerging military alliance between Russia and Assad’s other main allies – Iran and Hezbollah – focused on recapturing areas of northwestern Syria that were seized by insurgents in rapid advances earlier this year.

“The vanguard of Iranian ground forces began arriving in Syria: soldiers and officers specifically to participate in this battle. They are not advisors … we mean hundreds with equipment and weapons. They will be followed by more,” the second source said. Iraqis would also take part in the operation, the source said.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, has been fighting alongside the Syrian army since early in the conflict.

Full article: Assad allies, including Iranians, prepare ground attack in Syria: sources (Reuters)

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