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Why Iran sees Aleppo as chance to get in rather than out

Rather than seeing the victory in Aleppo as an opportunity to wind down operations, the Syrian government’s Iranian ally appears to be preparing to push ahead with new offensives.
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On Dec. 22, the same day the Syrian government announced that Aleppo was under its control, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari was in Damascus to meet President Bashar al-Assad. Ansari was in fact in the Syrian capital to congratulate his country’s prime regional ally for retaking Syria’s largest city and one of the main strongholds of the armed opposition. But Aleppo isn’t only a military target for Assad and the coalition fighting on his side, and retaking it isn’t an ordinary victory in the long route of the crisis. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, just a few hours after meeting Ansari in Beirut Dec. 23, said the triumph is a milestone to be invested in, representative of “a tough war that foiled all attempts to topple the Syrian government.” 

Over four years of fighting in Aleppo depleted the Iranian-led axis more than clashes in any other area in Syria. Without any accurate count, it is enough to say that hundreds of pro-Iranian fighters were killed in the battles; among those who died were high-ranking officers in both Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah. Iranian Gen. Hussein Hamadani and Hezbollah Cmdr. Ali Fayyad — aka Alaa of Bosnia — were both killed near the Athrya-Khanaser road. Hamadani was killed Oct. 9, 2015, and Fayyad on Feb. 26 of this year while executing the plan for the retaking of Aleppo.

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