Hezbollah Vows To Increase Presence In Syria's Aleppo

Hezbollah Vows To Increase Presence In Syria's Aleppo

Lebanon's Hezbollah said it would increase its military presence in Syria's Aleppo, saying the battle for the northern city was a fight to defend the entire country.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that as fighting in Syria intensified, 26 of the group's fighters had been killed in the Aleppo region since the beginning of June, a rare acknowledgement of the toll the battle is taking.

"We are facing a new wave, or a new stage, of war projects against Syria. It is not an incidental thing or a side battle, it is a new phase in the plans for the war on Syria which are being waged in northern Syria, particularly in the Aleppo region," Nasrallah said in a speech broadcast live on the group's Al Manar TV.

Hezbollah is fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Nasrallah also said 26 fighters have been killed in Aleppo this month, in addition to fighter who has gone missing and another who was captured.

"Those who have described what is going in Aleppo in the past months as 'one defeat after another' do not understand the reality of the battle that is going on," he said, adding that Hezbollah would increase its presence there.

Aleppo is split between government and rebel control, and is seen as a strategic prize for Damascus, which has vowed to recapture it.

Shi'ite Hezbollah, Iranian troops and Russian air power have been backing Syrian government forces against an array of mostly Sunni insurgents in bitter fighting that has escalated in recent weeks in and around Syria's former commercial hub.