The Daily Star reported Monday that new batches of Hezbollah fighters were preparing to deploy into Syria as Iraqi Shiite militias – which had been battling on behalf of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime – were recalled back across the Syrian-Iraqi border to battle the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS):
With the Syrian army decimated by desertions and exhaustion, the regime relies heavily on its allies, chiefly Hezbollah as well as Iraqi paramilitaries. It is estimated that there are around 5,000 Hezbollah fighters in Syria at any one time and the party represents the main offensive force in launching operations backed by Syrian airpower and artillery to recapture territory. There were an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Iraqi Shiite fighters serving in Syria before the ISIS offensive in northern Iraq. According to diplomatic sources, the Iraqis were being offered six-month contracts by Iran to serve in Syria with a guaranteed job on their return home.
Details on the redeployments had first begun to emerge last week, as the Al Qaeda offshoot began a lightning offensive across Iraq.
A rebel fighter speaking to the International Business Times noted earlier this week that “Hezbollah is fast stepping in” to fill the vacuum left by the Iraqi forces. In response to reports of a growing Sunni alliance across the region, Hezbollah has reportedly set up a military operations center and has mobilized at least 30,000 fighters who:
Being a secretive party, Hezbollah command is now assessing the military situation in Iraq before taking any decisions. The party’s security apparatus and its command that supervises the situation in Syria have gone underground and are operating in secret rooms, as they did during the 2006 July war with Israel, the Lebanese sources said.
While Hezbollah’s politicians, lawmakers and media officials are tight-lipped, refusing to comment on the ongoing military developments in Iraq, reports said the party has mobilized around 30,000 fighters who have been fully readied for any military move.
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