U.S. rethinks Syria strategy as ISIS advances in Aleppo

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Syrian rebels in Aleppo. File photo

ARA News

ISTANBUL – The U.S. Department of Defense (Pentagon) announced Friday that it will provide air support for the Syrian opposition fighters in their battles against the Islamic State (ISIS) radical group in northern Syria.

The Pentagon said the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, is to send weapons and equipment to what it called as “selected group” of the Syrian opposition leaders and their units. 

The Pentagon will reduce its plan of training the Syrian rebels. Instead, it will train and equip what it described as “the veteran leaders”. 

“The previous model was based on training infantry units. We now change to a form that would lead to larger military combat capabilities,” a U.S. official said.

In the meantime, the ISIS militant group reported Friday a rapid advancement toward the city of Aleppo in northern Syria, at a time the Western countries have accused Russia once again of giving priority to support the Syrian regime in its air campaign, rather than fighting terrorism. 

Also on Friday, the Syrian army, supported by the Lebanese Hezbollah militia and Russian warplanes, continued a land operation against rebel factions in the central and northwestern areas of the country. 

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that ISIS’ overnight offensive “marked their biggest gains in the area since late August.”

According to the Syrian Observatory, ISIS took advantage of Russian airstrikes against opposition factions and advanced in the northern areas of Aleppo.

After seizing the Infantry Military College, ISIS advanced westward, taking control of the Juvenile Prison, local sources reported. 

Aleppo has witnessed continuous battles since summer of 2012, where the regime forces and rebels shared control of its neighborhoods. Rebels have been targeting the regime-held western neighborhoods with missiles and mortars, while the regime forces respond by hitting opposition-held eastern neighborhoods of the city with explosive barrels, claiming lives of thousands of people. 

Reporting by: Egid Yousef

Source: ARA News

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