Iran

Iranian State TV: Hezbollah “Instrumental” in Protecting Assad

Hezbollah has been “instrumental” in keeping Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in power, a report on the Iranian propaganda network PressTV asserted Friday.

“Hezbollah has of course given many martyrs to protect Syria and Hezbollah has been very instrumental, even before Russia got involved into equation,” commentator Shabbir Hassanally told the Iranian network. “It was Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army that were defeating Jabhat al-Nusra and all of these other factions that were all supported by Israel.”

Hassannally’s boast’s about Hezbollah’s value to Assad came the same day that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that the completion of the siege of Aleppo by the regime forces and its Russian, Iranian, and Shiite allies was close at hand.

Iran and Hezbollah have played commanding roles on the ground to prop up the Syrian government, which has targeted civilians through the use of barrel bombs, massacres, intentional starvation, and chemical weapon attacks, leading to the death of over 400,000 people and the world’s largest refugee crisis since the Second World War.

Former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter assessed last month that Iran has created a Shiite army led by Hezbollah and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to protect the Assad regime. He also warned that Hezbollah’s combat experience in Syria “has made [them] a better fighting force and more adept in conventional military warfare.”

Those remarks were consistent with other recent reports about Iran’s growing military footprint in the Middle East. Iran’s recent formation of a Shiite “Liberation Army” has raised fears among observers that Tehran “is asserting itself as a regional or even an imperialistic power,” noted Tallha Abdulrazaq, a researcher at the University of Exeter. In 2014, an Iranian official close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei bragged that the Islamic Republic controlled four the capitals of four Arab countries: Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon.

[ Photo: AP Archive / YouTube ]