Last month Islamist insurgents including al Qaeda’s wing in Syria, Nusra Front, captured the town of Jisr al-Shughour in Syria’s Idlib province, edging closer to the government-held heartland of Latakia along the coast.
In response, Assad said that reinforcements to help his troops trapped around a hospital in Jisr al-Shugur would arrive soon. Assad did not indicate the nationality of those reinforcements. However, considering Syrian defense minister Fahd al-Friej just returned from Tehran last week, has Tehran dispatched Assad more reinforcements?
The regime latest set-backs, not only in the province of Idlib, but also in the south, have stifled the Syrian army attempts at replenishing its troops with fresh recruits. To assuage their fears, Assad appeared on State TV to make his case:
“And now, God willing, the army will arrive soon to these heroes who are besieged in the Jisr al-Shughour Hospital to continue the battle to defeat the terrorists”.
Has Tehran dispatched Assad more reinforcements?
The Assad regime uses loosely the term ‘terrorists’ to describe his opponents, which often include women and children Assad bombs regularly with barrel bombs and Chlorine Gas.
Assad was speaking at a school in an undisclosed location at an event to commemorate Syria’s Martyrs’ Day. In the rare public appearance, he was surrounded by heavy security.
Remarking that to-and-fro gains were normal in any war, Assad said the armed forces would remain resolute.
“Psychological defeat is the final defeat and we are not worried.” The Syrian regime has been concerned about its military readiness in the face of high attrition numbers.
Assad said while the army was waging a relentless war across swathes of territory and gaining ground, there were occasions when the fighters had to “retreat back when the situation warrants”. His explanations fell short of clarifying the attrition rate his army is experiencing and the dwindling number of Alawite fighters willing to confront the Islamist rebels.
This may explain why Tehran dispatched Assad more fresh reinforcements.
Although the rebels captured Jisr al-Shugur, battles have been raging around the hospital on the southwestern outskirts of the town where army forces and Hezbollah allied fighters have been holed up since the insurgent offensive began.
Reuters contributed to this article.