The Syrian Army along with Iranian and Hezbollah allies are to launch a ground offensive against insurgents in the Aleppo area, according to regional senior officials. The operation will have the support of Russian air power.
Plans for the battle are said to be well advanced with thousands of Iranian troops already said to be in the region.
If successful the insurgents including groups backed by President Assad’s enemies will be driven out of areas vital to Assad’s survival.
Meanwhile President Vladimir Putin has rejected US criticisms over Russian intervention in the conflict.
Appearing on television, Putin told his audience how uncooperative the US military were being:
“We asked (the US) on the military level to give us the targets which they consider to be the terrorist ones for sure, 100 percent. But the answer was: ‘No, we are not ready to do that’. Then we thought and asked another question: ‘Then could you tell us where we should not hit?’ Again, no answer. So, what should we do?” (Much laughter and applause followed Putin’s incredulity at the US attitude.)
Opposition to Russia however appears to be growing – after yesterday’s call to arms by al-Qaeda off-shoot, Nusra Front, ISIL has now issued an audio message urging supporters to join a so called holy war against Russia.
The same message also confirmed that ISIL’s second in command Abu Muslim al-Turkmani was killed in a US air strike in August.