Hezbollah fighters attacked three villages on Saturday in the Qusayr region of Syria, near the Lebanese border, according to the Syrian National Council (SNC). Local sources and the Syrian opposition believe one Hezbollah guerrilla and five Syrian Rebels were killed when the Shiite militia group tried to advance on Sunni villages. Last year Hezbollah guerrillas had captured eight nearby towns after crossing the border from their base in the Bekaa Valley.
The SNC claimed Hezbollah fighters used heavy weapons with support of the Syrian and Iranian governments. The “force moved on foot and was supported by multiple rocket launchers,” Hadi al-Abdallah of the Syrian Revolution General Commission told Reuters. Two tanks, captured from the Syrian military, had to be called in to assist the Free Syrian Army fighters.
Free Syrian Army fighters ride a tank outside a Syrian Army base in Damascus on Feb. 3. (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)
The SNC claimed Hezbollah is trying to inflame sectarian divisions and that the group continues to be a “serious threat to…regional peace and security.” Beirut should take responsibility for ending the violence the SNC added.
Hezbollah’s powerful Shiite militants have closely allied themselves with Iran and Syrian President Bashar al-Asad. They have been accused of providing training and logistical support to the Syrian military. The Syrian regime may have attempted to transport arms, including anti-aircraft SA-17 surface-to-air missiles, to Southern Lebanon. But with mortars landing near the presidential palace, Hezbollah could continue to use their own targeted operations or sectarian violence to assist Asad in fighting Syrian rebels.