From The Long War Journal… Thanks, Obama, for enabling Iran and Russian to perpetuate the Syrian genocide.
The IRGC’s involvement in the battle for Aleppo
By Amir Toumaj & Max Peck | February 13, 2016 | firstname.lastname@example.org | @AmirToumaj & @Maxwell_Peck
On Feb. 11, the US, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar agreed in Munich to a ceasefire in Syria. But the Russian Foreign Minister announced that his country would not stop its bombing against “terrorists.” (Russia’s definition of “terrorists” includes most rebel organizations, not just Al Nusrah Front, the Islamic State, and other jihadist groups.) Syrian President Bashar Assad vowed to retake the whole country, warning it could “take a long time.” These statements hardly signal good faith.
Assad’s allies, including Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which has a central role in ongoing operations in northern Aleppo, do not appear to be interested in serious negotiations. The Assad-Iran axis believes momentum on the ground is on their side.
On the same day as Geneva III talks started on Feb. 3, the Syrian Arab Army, Syrian National Defense forces and pro-Assad fighters backed by Russian air power launched a major offensive in northern Aleppo. They broke the siege of the predominantly Shiite towns of Nubl and Zahraa and captured the surrounding area, cutting off the opposition’s primary supply route from Turkey. They continue to push the offensive, encircling the rebel-held areas of Aleppo.
Since the operation started on Jan. 31, the IRGC has announced at least 42 fatalities, a significant spike in the death toll. The rate is comparable to October 2015, when Russia began its military intervention and pro-government forces launched a major offensive in southern Aleppo.
Like the October offensive, the IRGC members killed in the past week were from regular ground force units from across Iran. They included several senior officers: three brigadier generals, a colonel, and two lieutenants. Iranian media also reported the presence of officers and operatives from the IRGC’s Qods Force. The unit is not known to publicly report its fatalities.
A senior non-Syrian security official close to Damascus told Reuters that Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani was in the area supervising the operation, which is intended to preserve Bashar Assad’s regime. Soleimani helped convince the Kremlin to intervene militarily and deploy its air force, which has given the pro-Assad forces a huge edge. Soleimani oversees all of the Shiite militias active in Syria. Lebanese Hezbollah, the Afghan Shiite