File - In this photo taken on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, Syrian soldiers waving Syrian flags celebrate the capture of Achan, Hama province, Syria. (Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP)
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After the initial shock of intensive Russian airstrikes, Syrian rebels on the receiving end of a major offensive say better organization and new tactics have helped them to stem losses and fight back.A month of Russian airstrikes in support of government offensives have cost the rebels in lives and supplies: commanders have been killed, bases bombed, and weapons depleted. The attacking forces included 2,500 Iranian and Afghani fighters, and Syrian troops, said Abu Ahmed, the 36-year-old fighter, talking to Reuters from southern Aleppo."What changed for us was the huge, abnormal size and intensity of the bombardment," said Abu Ahmed, using his nom de guerre and speaking via a Web-based messaging system.His group, another FSA faction which has received foreign military support including U.S.-made anti-tank, or TOW missiles, lost its commander in the fighting. The Observatory says more than 350 fighters on the government's side have been killed in the last month, more than the 300 rebels it says have been killed in Russian airstrikes. It did not have a figure for the number of rebels killed in ground battles. Government forces are trying to break ISIS' siege of an air base to the east of Aleppo.
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