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US-Led Coalition Aiding Al-Qaeda In Syria While Iran Intervenes To Save Assad’s Regime

By Missing Peace

“Within a few days, we will conquer the Syrian border with Israel,” an Islamic State member threatened over the weekend.

Syrian Golan Heights near KuneitraSyrian Golan Heights near Kuneitra

This article first appeared at Western Journalism in the USA

Lebanese and Israeli media reported over the weekend that Iran has started to bring in Shiite troops to save the Assad regime in Syria. Alex Fishman reported in the Hebrew daily Yediot Acharonot that 1,500 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have arrived in the area of Latakia and in Damascus to oversee military operations against the Sunni Islamist rebels.

Fishman claimed the regime of President Assad has already ceased to exist and that ‘Iran is now in Syria,’ meaning that the Al-Quds Brigades of the IRGC now effectively rule the areas still under Assad’s control.

The Syrian regime controls only 25 percent of the country, but 80 percent of the Syrian population lives in the areas under its control. The regime also controls the national airport near Damascus and the main ports in the country.

The Daily Star in Beirut reported that Iran has sent 15,000 Shiite fighters from Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan to the Damascus region and the coastal province of Latakia over the past few weeks. As-Safir news in Lebanon – which is close to Hezbollah – reported today that already 20,000 Shiite fighters have arrived in Syria.

A Lebanese political source told The Daily Star that the new troops are expected to launch a counter-offensive to recapture areas in the Idlib province where government forces have suffered a string of defeats. Idlib is now fully under the control of the Al-Nusra-led coalition of Islamist rebel groups.

As Western Journalism reported last week, the Iranian move was predicted by Al-Quds Brigades commander Qasem Soleimani who made a surprise visit to Syria at the end of May and told reporters then that ‘the world would be surprised by what Iran and the Syrian regime are preparing in the coming days.’

The Lebanese source said the Iranian action has two objectives. One is to boost the morale of government forces and its supporters after Assad suffered a series of setbacks over the last month. The second objective is to achieve new military successes before the end of June. The end of June is also the deadline for Iran and the six world powers to finalize a deal about Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran is expected to receive between $30 and $50 billion in frozen assets immediately upon signing a nuclear agreement with the world powers. Israeli experts and Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu have said they expect that most of that money will be spent to aid Iran’s proxies in the current Sunni-Shiite battle in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon and to help the Palestinian terror organizations in their fight against Israel. So Assad’s regime – that was on the verge of collapse last week – must hold on until the nuclear deal is signed, commentators say.

On Sunday, a first success by Iranian and Syrian government forces was reported when they managed to repel Islamic State from the strategically important city of Al-Hasakah in northeast Syria. The city is located between areas in Syria and Iraq that are under Islamic State control. Islamic State had advanced to the outskirts of the city in recent days.

Another stunning development in Syria was reported on Sunday afternoon. U.S.-led coalition airplanes carried out four airstrikes against ISIS in the town of  Suran in the Aleppo province during a battle between Islamic State and the Islamist coalition led by Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

The airstrikes marked the first time that the U.S.-led coalition aided non-Kurdish forces in the battle against Islamic State, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP. Islamic State conquered Suran a week ago and has been fighting the al-Nusra-led Islamist coalition in the area ever since.

The last U.S. strike against the al-Nusra coalition dated back to May 20th when 15 al-Nusra fighters were killed in an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Aleppo province. Al-Nusra is blacklisted by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.

Meanwhile, Islamic State announced that it has set its sights on the Golan Heights and plans to control the Syrian-Israeli border. In a clip that was released last week and aired by Channel 2 in Israel, ISIS warned that it intends to take over the area from Jabhat al-Nusra – that has positions 100 yards from the border with Israel – and the Free Syrian Army that is supported by Israel and the West.

An ISIS terrorist in the clip warned the Free Syrian Army, “I advise you to beware. Why are you fighting under an unknown flag? Why do you not adhere to the laws of Allah and fly his flag?”

“The groups you belong to… have joined the infidels and received aid from them and [together] operate out of a command room in Amman,” he said in a reference to the war room in Amman from where the Western coalition provides intelligence and air support to the Free Syrian Army.

On Sunday evening, the Israeli paper Israel Hayom reported Islamic State is advancing in the direction of the Golan Heights and is only tens of miles away from the Israeli border.

“Within a few days, we will conquer the Syrian border with Israel,” an Islamic State member threatened over the weekend.

Druze in Syria and Israel are becoming increasingly worried about the approaching ISIS forces.

Sheikh Maufak Tarif, the head of the Druze community in Israel, has called upon the U.S. to bomb Islamic State out of the Golan. He said he had met with the Americans to discuss the situation. He also called upon Israel to open the border for Druze refugees in case the Islamic State succeeded in conquering the Druze village of Khader, which is located close to the border with Israel.

A resident of the Syrian Druze city of Sweida told an Israeli Druze leader last week that Islamic State is building up a strong force that includes tanks and heavy weaponry.