A Free Syrian Army fighter of Fursan al-Haq brigade
prepares to fire a U.S.-made anti-tank Tow missile
Despite a month of heavy battering by Russian airstrikes, Syria's rebels have so far been able to fend off offensives by government forces trying to retake territory from the rebel's heartland. The fierce fighting shows how even greater backing from Syrian President Bashar Assad's international allies is not swiftly tipping the conflict in his favor.
Assad's military has launched assaults on several fronts in the north and northwest the past weeks, supported by Russian airstrikes pummeling rebel positions that government forces are trying to retake. Assad's troops have also been backed by the tougher fighters of Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrilla army and combat advisers from Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard — and top commanders from both Hezbollah and the Iranians have been killed, a sign of the intensity of the battles.
The rebels say they have been able to hold out because of support from their own allies: An increasing flow of American anti-tank TOW missiles that have allowed their fighters to blunt attempted advances by Assad's forces. Despite more than 1,000 combat sorties by Russian aircraft hitting more than 2,000 targets, government forces' gains have been minimal.
Free Syrian Army Lt. Col. Fares Al-Bayoush of Fursan
"We don't deny that the airstrikes are effective, but they (troops) will not advance on the ground," Lt. Col. Fares al-Bayoush, commander of the 1,300-strong Fursan al-Haq Brigade, told The Associated Press, speaking in the Turkish border city of Reyhanli.
The TOW rockets have been instrumental, he and other commanders said. The United States has been supplying the missiles to select rebel factions for months, part of its program alongside Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar to boost the insurgency.Read the rest of the story HERE.
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