DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 29, 2013,
Three months after winning the strategic town of Al Qusayr, the combined Syrian and Hizballah armies have captured the historic Muslim Brotherhood city of Homs, 162 kilometers northeast of the capital Damascus. DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that Sunday, July 28, jeeps with recoilless guns, pick-up trucks with anti air guns — all loaded with defeated rebel Farouq Brigades fighters were to be seen fleeing the city. As they fled, Syrian and Hizballah army tanks facing no resistance rolled into the center of Homs, the old city and the Khladiyeh district and hoisted images of President Bashar Assad.
The fall of Homs, which the rebels designated from the start of the uprising “capital of the revolution,” opens the way for Syrian-Hizballah forces to move north on Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.
Aleppo’s capture would grant Assad a decisive victory in the civil war and confer on the Lebanese Shiite terrorist Hizballah for the first time the standing of an armed force with strategic capabilities, as well as giving the Iran-Syrian-Hizballah alliance a major boost.
Early Monday, Syrian ground-to-ground missiles were pounding rebel fortifications Aleppo to soften their resistance, while Syrian air force helicopters struck Kurdish PYG units ranged along the Syrian-Turkish border. Although the helicopters flew over the frontier, they did not run into any interference from the Turkish air force, its artillery emplacements or the NATO Patriot anti-missile batteries deployed there.
The Kurdish units were targeted to prevent them moving into Aleppo in defense of the city’s Kurdish quarters against the Syrian army-Hizballah advance.
After the fall of Homs and the fast approaching Syrian assault on Aleppo, Washington, Jerusalem and Ankara have run out of time for quibbling whether to step into the Syrian conflict. The critical decision facing them now is whether to save Aleppo from a savage Syrian army-Hizballah onslaught that will determine the final fate of the war, or continue to stand aside.
The various tactics outlined by top US soldier Gen. Martin Dempsey last week for US military intervention at a cost of $1 billion per month have been overtaken by events. The Obama administration must now decide very quickly whether Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers should be allowed to win the Syrian civil war or stopped at Aleppo.