MidEast

Report: Russia and Hezbollah “Officially” Cooperating in Syria

Russian and Hezbollah officials have met in the Syrian city of Aleppo to coordinate movements on the ground, the Lebanese website al-Akhbar reported on Thursday.

The website, which is considered to be supportive of Hezbollah, said that Russian officials instigated the meeting, the first of its kind, in order to establish “continual” communication between the two sides over battle plans in Syria.

Both Russia and Hezbollah are staunch allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and their respective forces are continuing to fight alongside Assad during the country’s ongoing civil war. Although Russian and Hezbollah officials have reportedly previously been in the same battle operation rooms, they have not coordinated activity. It was reported that “senior” Russian officials who attended the meeting are especially interested in coordinating with Hezbollah infantry in Aleppo.

Hezbollah is thought to have several thousand troops fighting in Syria and earlier this month conducted a military parade in the country, in which it showcased the advanced weaponry at its disposal.

Israel has expressed deep concern over Hezbollah’s attempts to transfer some of this arsenal to Lebanon, where the group is estimated to have at least 100,000 rockets ready to strike Israel. The IDF has carried out a number of airstrikes on Hezbollah weapons convoys to prevent such smuggling.

In order to aid these efforts, Israel has established a high-level chain of communication with Russia, to coordinate their respective military operations in and around Syria. Earlier this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in order to put systems in place, which Netanyahu said would “avoid mishaps, misunderstandings and unnecessary confrontations” between Israeli and Russian militaries in Syria and “maintain freedom of action for the IDF and the air force… vis-à-vis our security.”

Earlier this month, Likud MK and former Shin Bet head Avi Dichter warned that “Russia does not view Iran and its proxies according to the level of threat they pose or broadcast toward Israel.”

(Via BICOM)

[Photo: BICOM]