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Hezbollah Seeks to Fulfill Expansionary Ambitions in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lebanon’s Hezbollah members carry Hezbollah flags during the
funeral of their fellow fighter Adnan Siblini, who was killed while
fighting against insurgents in the Qalamoun region, in al-Ghaziyeh
village, southern Lebanon May 26, 2015. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

Trust between the so-called Hezbollah and the Syrian Regime has been breached since Qusayr battle in May 2013. Therefore, both parties have decided to separate fronts and battles.

Hezbollah’s avidities have expanded after it participated in many battles against the Syrian opposition, and adopted a superior manner while dealing with the regime and its militias, which consider that the Lebanese party’s intervention was the reason behind the persistence of the regime till today. Yet, they also consider that Hezbollah’s militants are an alternative force and that they aren’t allowed to control them.

Over the past month, conflicts between them have blown in the northern and southern country sides of Aleppo. The Syrian regime targeted the Hezbollah’s militants by airstrikes although the reasons behind the conflict were not clear.

The Lebanese writer Fadi Akoum, who wrote “Hezbollah and Pleasure Policy…from Terrorism to Terrorism” points that with the development of incidents in Syria since 2011, Hezbollah’s intervention wasn’t direct and significant, yet it gradually expanded in line with the regime’s geographic losses.

Akoum reveals that based on many testimonies from Lebanese who live in the southern suburb of Beirut, south, and Beqaa, Hezbollah has started recruiting non-Hezbollah members to fight in Syria since 2015 for USD500 monthly, in addition to the provision of some social and financial aid for militants’ families. Regarding the miserable economic conditions in Lebanon, many youths have actually joined the party. Many of them were killed, which obliged Hezbollah to consider them among its fighters when declaring their death toll. Based on information he got from Syria and Lebanon, Akoum has divided Hezbollah’s troops into four:

1. Uniformed services, which were located in the south Lebanon, including the elite forces known with their high-training and excellent armament, and the unit 901, which is a commandoes’ forces assigned to implement hard exterior operations.

2. Militia of Hezbollah’s supporter: formed to include supporters from Lebanon and other countries that are willing to fight in Syria to protect the sacred sites, mainly the “Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque”. This troop is composed from small groups with religious names, and enjoys a medium armament.

3. New military troops composed after the launch of non-members’ recruitment.

4. Militias of national defense composed of Syrians who joined them and received training under the supervision of Hezbollah’s members.

The writer continues that militias composed under a direct supervision from Hezbollah, and the support of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution are spread in many regions in Syria, and implement different missions based on the developments in the battle field. It is worth mentioning that these troops include militants from different nationalities like Iraqis, Iranians, Afghans, Pakistani, and Yemenis.

The human losses of the so-called Hezbollah started with the launch of the Syrian crisis, and have increased in an ascending rhythm. The faction tried to hide them by announcing their death during Jihad duty or training. However, on 30 April 2013, Nasrallah announced that his militias will make all their efforts to help their allies in and around Al-Qusayr on the Lebanese-Syrian borders, which was conquered by the Syrian opposition.

Hezbollah’s troops have succeeded in recapturing the region in June, where they lost more than 200 members, according to media and security reports. Since 2013, members of the Lebanese faction started to appear evidently in many Syrian regions with their complete armament and yellow flags, while previously they used to hide in costumes of the Syrian army and Syrian flags.

Presence in Syria…not a New Status

The so-called Hezbollah existed in Syria long before the Arab Spring. The Syrian army’s commanders have always known what the existence of “Hezbollah” means, and have struggled from its deep intervention in their military system.

The super citizen

The rebel Brigadier General Ahmad Rahal says that Hezbollah’s dependency on the Shiite ideology made it an ideological party, and its members have an absolute loyalty compared to other militants. First, they undergo successive sessions to understand this ideology and consider that Jihad and fighting with the party is a religious order imposed by “Wilayat al-Fakih” (the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist).

Rahal adds that Hafez al-Assad was smart enough to hide the deep relation with Iran. He maintained balance between his relation with the Arabs and Thran, and didn’t gave special importance for meetings with Hassan Nasrallah, unlike his son Bashar who didn’t separate between Pan Arabism and Wilayat al-Fakih. He has been close to Iran and attacked Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

He continues that Hassan Nasrallah has become a hero since Hafez’s rule in 1995.

Technically, this manipulation of the Arab emotions was transformed into an exceptional love for Nasrallah during the presence of the Syrian army in Lebanon. Good relation with Syrian regime always required the authorization of Hezbollah’s core in the southern suburb in Lebanon.

Following Hariri’s assassination, the Lebanese political scene has witnessed turmoil. All the Lebanese sects were weakened except the Shiite represented by Hassan Nasrullah.

Rafic Hariri was an obstacle in the path of the Persian project in the region. Therefore, his termination was a must, which made him the victim of the Persian-Arab conflict. Before his assassination, the former Lebanese prime minister was recalled in the Syrian presidential palace, where Bashar al-Assad threatened him.

The rebel brigadier noted that following Hariri’s assassination, the path was paved for Hezbollah’s expansion and he succeeded with Assad’s help in controlling the Lebanese government and to lead the Lebanese scene. He also notes that Hezbollah, in cooperation with the regime, had built tunnels that link Lebanon and Syria. These tunnels were under Hezbollah’s control and were used to transport its weapons loads.

Official from the military council of the coast reveals that Hezbollah has started his mission in oppressing the Syrian revolution through huntsmen. They were assigned to shoot influential figures of the revolution and the Syrian army members who think twice before killing civilians. Few of the Syrian army officials knew about Hezbollah’s intervention in the beginning, yet after Qusayr’s battle, the Lebanese party’s participation has become public, which was considered as an offence by the Syrian officers of the army.

The official notes that the important zones, important inspection points, and the Shiite areas were handed to Hezbollah, and that the Syrian army was banned from approaching them.

He continues that by the end of 2013, an Iranian cleric has assigned Samir Kuntar, Jihad Mughniyah (Imad Mughniyah’s son) and another Iranian commander to what was called “Syrian Hezbollah” in the Golan Heights, which raised concerns in Israel. However, the idea of “Syrian Hezbollah” failed when Israel killed the three mentioned members.

Certain exit

Ayman Abdul Nour, member of the opposition and editor in chief of “We all are Partners” website reveals that Hezbollah is now seeking power and influence that equals what it “sacrifices”, which led its members to drop the Syrian regime’s flag and to raise their own one. The Lebanese militants also intended to disrespect the Syrian army’s members and announced that they prefer not to cooperate with them anymore.

Abdul Nour adds that Hezbollah is the severest in fighting and committing massacres. He continues that according to the Independent, the numbers of the Syrian army members reported in the media were exaggerated, which pushed Bashar Assad first to demand additional support from “Hezbollah in Iran” to fill the gap, and then the Russian support.

The member of the opposition concludes that eventually Hezbollah’s role in Syria will end. Many interior Lebanese considerations will push the party to withdraw once it feels that the solution of the Syrian crisis is approaching. He adds that the economic pressures will also play a role in the withdrawal, as Iran has recently decreased wages of many Shiite factions in Syria.