ALEPPO, Syria — Russian and Iranian support of Syrian government forces proved to be pivotal in recent fighting in Aleppo’s southern countryside. Syrian opposition forces lost several important towns and strategic locations in a large-scale offensive the Bashar al-Assad regime and its allies launched Oct. 16. The opposition brigades declared a full public mobilization Oct. 17 to try to counter the attack.
On Oct. 13, Iranian officials had announced that Iranian troops numbering in the thousands had arrived in Syria to prepare, along with Lebanese Hezbollah forces, for the offensive outside Aleppo. While Iran backed regime forces on the ground, Russia handled air support, having launched military operations Sept. 30. The government forces would not have been able to make progress in the countryside without the Iranian and Russia efforts. The opposition forces had long maintained their grip on the largest part of the region by deterring regime attacks, the last of which occurred in June 2014 on towns close to Jabal Azan.