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Shock in Hezbollah Ranks after Most Severe Blow in 3 Years | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Hezbollah fighters during a parade. Reuters

Beirut-The so-called Lebanese Hezbollah received a military blow in southern Aleppo in the past two days, the most severe loss that the party has suffered since the Qusair battle in 2013.

The party announced the killing of more than 20 of its militants during fighting with Jaish al-Fatah in the countryside of southern Aleppo, creating a shock among party supporters and driving fears that the battle could lead to more deaths.

The so-called Hezbollah tried to contain the repercussions of its losses, which included victims mostly from southern Lebanon. The party, therefore, called on its high-ranking officials to support the families of the victims.

Photos published by activists on several social media websites showed the head of the party’s parliamentary bloc deputy Mohammed Raad receiving condolences next to the family of one of the victims, Alaa Alaeddine in the town of Sarafand, in south Lebanon, hours after his death was made public.

A well-informed source opposed to Hezbollah told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the large number of fatalities “shows that the path of the battle, which the party has started lately in Aleppo, is not in its benefit.”

The source added: “The repeated announcements about fighters being killed have driven fears among party supporters that the battle could not end up in (Hezbollah’s) favor and that it might leave a large number of victims” among its ranks.

In the Lebanese southern town of Barasheet, three men from the same family were killed during the fighting in southern Aleppo.

There were also conflicting reports about the final number of victims who fell in the battle. Syrian activists say 27 Hezbollah fighters had died; However, Lebanese activists published lists including the names of 23 victims, all of them originally from the Hezbollah strongholds of southern Lebanon, the Bekaa or Beirut’s southern suburbs.

Hezbollah received its strongest hit since the battle of Qusair in 2013, when the party started participating in the Syrian war and had witnessed a large number of victims in its ranks.

Director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel Rahman said 1,300 Hezbollah militants have been killed during battles in Syria.

Meanwhile, fighting continued on Sunday between the party and Jaish al-Fatah, which has been heavily attacking the countryside of southern Aleppo, to try to reach Talet al-Hader and cut the regime’s only connecting line with the city of Aleppo.