Iraqi Shia fighters salute the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab in Damascus (photo: Reuters)
According to Reuters:
Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad captured the southern Damascus suburb of Hujaira on Wednesday, part of a broader advance that has brought him major gains south of the capital before proposed international peace talks.
Assad's military resurgence this year has relied to a great extent on support from Shi'ite Iran and fighters from Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iraqi militias, some of them based around a Shi'ite shrine southeast of Damascus.
They have helped turn the tide against the Sunni Muslim rebels, whose ranks are increasingly dominated by Islamist fighters and al Qaeda-linked foreign jihadists.Earlier in the week, a rebel groups’ joint declaration said government forces backed by Hezbollah fighters, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Iraqi Abu al-Fadl Abbas militia had launched “a fierce offensive to reoccupy” Aleppo. Additionally, ISIS in Aleppo released a statement confirming that it had suffered many casualties during clashes with Syrian forces near the 80th brigade army base, Tal'aran town and al-Sfeira city.
The Syrian conflict may be entering a new stage, where Saudi support for Takfiri fighters comes up short against the resolve of Syrian and Shia fighting forces, and IRGC support/expertise.