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Rami Sweid & Absi Smeisem

Syrian regime 'boosted by thousands of foreign fighters'

The Syrian regime defences has been bolstered by foreign troops [AFP]

Date of publication: 4 June, 2015

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Thousands of foreign fighters are flocking to Syria to back the regime in what could be a final offensive in Idlib province, while rebels battle IS in the north.
Thousands of Iranian, Iraqi, and Lebanese fighters have arrived in Syria boost the Syrian regime defends around Latakia and Damascus, reports have said.

A source told al-Araby al-Jadeed that thousands of Iranian soldiers had arrived in Damascus international airport over the past two days. They entered via a VIP section at the airport - away commercial passengers -under heavy security.

The source said the arrivals also included fighters from Iraq and Afghanistan. Lebanese fighters arrived overland, he said.
     Opposition figures have noticed increased regime activity around the al-Ghab plain region.

Opposition figures have noticed increased regime activity around the al-Ghab plain region, with thousands of Iraqi and Iranian fighters flocking to the area.

A military rebel source said he thought an Iranian-led counter-offensive was imminent on the Idlib city of Jisr al-Shughour.

On Wednesday, AFP quoted an unnamed Syrian security sources as saying that about 7,000 Iranian and Iraqi fighters arrived in Syria over the past few weeks. Their first priority is to defend capital and the larger contingent of the defence force is reportedly from Iraq. 

"The goal is to reach 10,000 men to support the Syrian army and pro-government militias, firstly in Damascus, and then to retake Jisr al-Shughour," the source said.

Rebels battle IS

Meanwhile, an alliance of rebel groups calling itself Burkan al-Furat ("the Euphrates volcano") has reported steady advances in the IS stronghold of Raqqa province over the past few days, and are now approaching Tell Abyad on the Syrian-Turkish border.

"IS has ordered families of its troops in the Sulouk area and its villages to come to Raqqa city because of a possible sudden Euphrates Volcano expansion in the area," a local source told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

The alliance issued a warning to residents in the combat area, pleading with them to flee to avoid IS use them as human shields, as they have done in Iraq. The group also pledged to protects civilians in newly liberated areas.

IS have made advances in Syria over the past week, and have launched an offensive in Aleppo with its elite fighters from Central Asia and Chechnya. Rebels have been largely successful in stemming the attack although they have lost ground in some areas.

IS is also over-stretched, fighting major offensives simultaneously against rebels and the regime. If the rebel-Kurdish force is successful in the north, it could cut supplies and foreign fighters from reaching IS territory.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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