All day Friday and Saturday, Aug.11-12, fighters of Hizballah’s elite Radwan Force – 3,000 in all – streamed to the pivotal Aleppo battlefield from all parts of Lebanon and Syria. DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources disclose that they were following the orders of their leader Hassan Nasrallah, who was warned byTehran that the pro-Assad army fighting for Syria’s second city was flagging in the face of rebel assaults.
The Radwan Force was called in as the only military capable of saving the day for Assad and his allies. This step had been carefully avoided by Nasrallah in view of the heavy losses his organization had already suffered for backing the Syrian army – some 1,500 dead in three years – and intense fallout at home.
He has now been forced to sacrifice his last remaining military asset to fight in one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in recent times in the Middle East, even though it promises a swelling procession of HIzballah coffins returning to Lebanon.
According to our military sources, the battle to wrest Aleppo from rebel control, now in its second month, has claimed some 2,000 war dead and 4,000 injured on both sides – not counting the masses of civilians.
Some units have lost more than a quarter of their combatants and dropped out.
Nasrallah knows exactly what is happening in this critical arena. He also understands that a unit which loses 30 percent of its combatants is deemed in military terms unfit to continue fighting and that the battle for Aleppo will be drawn out and bloody. Yet he is willing to commit his entire deck of military resources to keep Bashar Assad’s fighting in Aleppo.
There is no hope of an early resolution in Aleppo, because stalemate between the combatants is exceptionally complicated and thankless. Whenever one side captures terrain, it quickly discovers it was drawn into a trap and under siege.
This hopeless standoff is the result of Moscow’s refusal to provide the Syrian army and its allies with enough air support to pull ahead, in the wake of President Vladimir Putin talks with Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan in St. Petersburg Tuesday, Aug. 9.