The New York Times
reports on Lebanese involvement in Syria's civil war
Syrian activists and rebels, and opponents of Hezbollah in Lebanon, have
long accused the Islamist party of taking a direct role in the Syrian
conflict, but until recently, evidence was thin.
Recently, however, a spate of funerals in the Bekaa Valley for Hezbollah
members — including a military commander — killed while performing
“jihad duties” has provided firmer signs that the organization is
sending men to fight in Syria.
Free Syrian Army fighters in towns around the city of Qusayr, just
across the border from Lebanon, say that Hezbollah is reinforcing
government troops engaged in a hard-fought offensive in the area. Last
week, the Free Syrian Army, saying that it had captured 13 Hezbollah
fighters near Qusayr, threatened to strike Hezbollah strongholds in
south Beirut. The rebels said the recent Hezbollah funerals were for men
killed in Syria.
Free Syrian Army rebels also say that Hezbollah has for several weeks
been launching Katyusha and Grad rockets at Syrian targets from
territory that it controls in the northeastern Bekaa Valley.
While Hizbullah supports their patrons in the Syrian government, Lebanese Sunnis are against them:
Residents of Masharih al-Qaa say they only provide non-military support
for Syria’s rebels. But there have been several reports of gun battles
spanning the border there and elsewhere.
Others in Lebanon, meanwhile, are offering more proactive backing for
the Syrian rebels, with Lebanese Sunni fighters openly streaming into
Syria to fight against the government.
A Sunni militia commander in Lebanon’s restive second city, Tripoli,
said there had been a rise in the number of Lebanese fighters heading to
Syria recently. The commander, who identified himself only as Abu Bera,
said some were joining extremist groups outside the umbrella of the
Free Syrian Army, like Jabhat al-Nusra, a jihadist militia suspected of
links to Al Qaeda.
This poses a danger that the war in Syria could also destabilize Lebanon, something no major faction in the latter country probably wants.
Labels: Lebanon, Syria