Massive offensive on Syria’s southern Aleppo launched on Friday by Syrian regime troops backed by Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah fighters and the largest known to date presence of Iranian fighters on the ground.
The offensive comes concentrated against Syrian opposition-held regions, instead of battling ISIS, which was the original goal of the Russian military intervention in Syria.
Aleppo is Syria’s second largest city, which borders Turkey and a home to about 2 million people, with large swaths of it under the control of opposition fighters. Repeated attacks from the regime forces using barrel bombs kill thousands in Aleppo alone every month.
"This is the promised battle," a senior military source in Syria said of the offensive backed by hundreds of Hezbollah fighters and Iranian forces. "The main core is the Syrian army," the source told Reuters.
Recently on September 30, the Russian military started its operations inside Syria, initially saying the military intervention is aimed at battling the rising ISIS insurgency.
However, the locations and intensity of Russian air strikes show the purpose of the operations is aiding the declining authority of Bashar al Assad, Syrian regime president.
Russian air strikes have mainly targeted the Syrian opposition, with few strikes actually hitting ISIS targets.
The assault means further support and security for Assad's withering authority on the war-torn country, which 50% of is under ISIS control, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
Hezbollah, which has supported Assad since the beginning of the conflict, along with Iran and Russia, said the regime army was carrying out a "broad military operation", with support from Russian and Syrian jets, across a front at least 10 miles (15 km) wide from the southwest to southeast of Aleppo.