The Lebanese government on Tuesday reported progress in providing relief to residents of the besieged border town of Tfail, a remote Lebanese outpost functionally accessible only via Syrian roads, has been subject to isolation and bombardment by Hezbollah-backed forces fighting on behalf of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime.
The Iran-directed terror group has sought to seal portions of the Lebanon-Syria border as part of an effort to contain sectarian blowback generated by its support of Assad. A Lebanese army official explained to the Associated Press that, as a result of Hezbollah’s tactics, Tfail had at times been severed from the rest of Lebanon.
The army official says the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant Hezbollah group was occasionally blocking the only access road to Tfail, severing it from the rest of Lebanon. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to media.
The country’s NOW outlet went further, describing how over 4,000 Lebanese citizens and thousands of Syrian refugees in the town had “lived without supplies of food, electricity, shelter, or aid for four months.” The siege had in recent days escalated to active cross-border shelling, sending residents fleeing into the surrounding landscape. Beirut had committed to trying to alleviate the situation and on Tuesday a convoy of food and aid was able to enter the town.
Later Tuesday, Lebanon’s state National News Agency quoted Kheir as saying that the food aid delivered was “sufficient for 40 days.” The NNA added that Security forces had transferred ten wounded people – nine Syrians and one Lebanese – to the Farhat Hospital in Beqaa’s Jeb Jennine and Al-Manara Hospital in the Western Beqaa.
The Syrian attack on Tfail took place alongside several other recent cross-border attacks by Assad-linked forces. The dynamic is particularly problematic for Hezbollah, which for years had sought to brand itself – occasionally with help from elements of the Western foreign policy establishment – as an indigenous Lebanese organization protecting Lebanese territory from military violations.
There are open debates, however, about the degree to which damage to Hezbollah’s image will affect its political position inside Lebanon generally, or more specifically its maneuvering in anticipation of upcoming presidential elections. The group has not been subtle in leveraging its superiority in arms and infrastructure to politically paralyze Lebanon in order to achieve its objectives. It is widely expected that Beirut faces at least a short-term deadlock in selecting a new president.
[Photo: 2014SyriaNewWorld / YouTube]