Friday, June 17, 2016

Tension Between Assad Forces, Hizbullah Sparks Intense Battles Between Them In Aleppo Area - MEMRI


Websites proposed several possible reasons for the fighting between the two allies

In the recent hours, there have been increasing reports in the Arab media and on social networks that intense battles are taking place between Hizbullah forces and Syrian regime forces in the rural area north of Aleppo. Confirmation of the reports can be found in Facebook posts by regime supporters who blamed Hizbullah for the fighting and rebuked the organization, saying it that it had come to help the Syrian army, not control it. Websites proposed several possible reasons for the fighting between the two allies: Hizbullah's insistence on running battles on its own, without coordinating with regime forces; Hizbullah's opposition to the ceasefire in Aleppo, which Russia announced early this morning with the regime's consent; and anger on the part of Hizbullah that regime forces had failed to defend military positions that Hizbullah had won in very costly battles.

The following is a review of reports on the fighting between Syrian regime forces and Hizbullah: 


Reports: Intense Fighting Between Hizbullah, Assad Forces

At 02:30 am on June 16, 2016, the Lebanese website Janoubia, which is known for its opposition to Hizbullah, cited "Syrian sources" in a report stating that "real battles are taking place in Tel Al-Maysat and Al-Bureij in the Aleppo area between Assad's army and Hizbullah troops," and that "the Syrian air force bombed Hizbullah positions on three separate occasions." According to the sources, "this is not the first clash [between the sides] in the recent days," and "the reason for the conflict is the Assad's army rapid withdrawal from positions that Hizbullah had won in very costly battles." The report stated further that both sides have sustained dozens of losses in the fighting. Several hours later, the site reported that there had been heavy fighting between the sides since 01:30 that night in the region of the Shi'ite villages Nubl and Al-Zaharaa north of Aleppo, and that seven regime soldiers and officers had been killed. [1] 
Syrian Opposition Website: "Yesterday's Friend Is Today's Enemy"; Assad Army Gave Russian Air Force Coordinates Of Hizbullah Positions
The oppositionist Syrian website "Shaam" reported under the heading "Yesterday's Friend Is Today's Enemy" that "intense fighting involving heavy weapons and artillery" had started during the night between Hizbullah and Assad forces along several routes in the rural area north of Aleppo, and that a major road in that area had been blocked. The report added that Russian jets had bombed Hizbullah positions in the area, having received the coordinates from the Assad forces, and that dozens of Hizbullah troops were killed and injured in these air strikes. According to the website, battles also broke out south of Aleppo between the Iraqi Al-Nujaba militia and Hizbullah on the one hand, and regime forces on the other. 

The website noted that the clashes started as brawls and escalated into gunfights and eventually into battles involving heavy weapons and even jets, adding that officials from both sides intervened to stop the hostilities.[2] 
Syrian Oppositionist Website: Hizbullah Members Insisted On Fighting Independently Of Regime Forces

Several possible reasons for the schism between Hizbullah and the regime forces were proposed. The Syrian website, which describes itself as "neutral," reported that conflict had erupted in the town of Al-Haylan in the northern rural area of Aleppo after Hizbullah members refused to obey the orders of the liaison officer and insisted on running the battle independently of the regime forces. In response, regime forces fired at Hizbullah troops, and the skirmish escalated into an artillery exchange. The website noted that Hizbullah's position in the area had also been bombed from the air, but it was unclear whether by Syrian or Russian jets.[3] 

The Syrian oppositionist website Orient News cited sources as saying that the reason for the fighting may be Hizbullah's opposition to the ceasefire in Aleppo that Russia had unexpectedly announced several hours after midnight with the regime's consent.[4] Another speculation pointed to Hizbullah's complaints about incompetence on the part of the Syrian army, namely its claims that regime forces had failed to defend positions that Hizbullah had won with great difficulty north of Aleppo, and had also failed to assist Hizbullah forces south of the city.[5]    

Regime Journalist On Facebook: Hizbullah Came To Help Us, Not Control Us

Evidence of the schism between regime and Hizbullah forces could be seen in comments made on Facebook by Syrian journalist and former MP Sharif Shhade. He wrote: "National sovereignty is a red line. The decision always rests with the Syrian [military] brass. We must quickly resolve any disagreement with the assisting forces, since there is no room for conflict at this stage. Sons of Hizbullah, you have come to help us, not to control us. Please rethink your position."[6] 

Kinana Allouche, a pro-regime Syrian journalist, held Hizbullah responsible for the incident. She wrote on her Facebook page: "This afternoon, Hizbullah elements attacked the men of resistance in Nubl and Al-Zaharaa as well as officers in the Syrian Arab army. Intense clashes erupted as a result. This is a message from a Syrian citizen to all the forces assisting the Syrian Arab army: The Syrian Arab army is the pride of the ummah. You are here to assist it against terrorism and not to control it. The Syrian Arab army stood by you in your war against Israel. Do not toy with us. Stop doing harm."[7] 

[1], June 16, 2016.
[2], June 16, 2016.
[3], June 16, 2016.
[4], June 16, 2016.
[5], June 16, 2016.
[6], June 16, 2016.
[7], June 16, 2016.



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