MidEast

New Study Exposes Hezbollah Role in Syria

A new study by the Intelligence and Terrorism Center, which is part of the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center, estimates that at least a hundred Hezbollah fighters have been killed in the battles in Syria.

The study draws its information from open sources, mainly the Arab media. It provides a list of 96 names of Hezbollah fighters who died in action in defense of the Bashar Assad regime and had their bodies transported for burial in their home villages and town in Lebanon. However, the study says that the number of casualties is probably higher and will continue to climb as the war prolong. More than 50 percent of the deaths happened in the battles in and around Qusayr, the strategic gate at the border between the two countries.

Hezbollah casualties were also recorded while defending the tomb of Zinab a holy site for the Shiites south of Damascus which has been a target for attacks by rebel forces.

The study claims that thousands of Hezbollah fighters take part directly or indirectly in the conflict. Some of them are on patrol and guarding duties along the border of the two countries other are assigned on assassination mission inside Lebanon against Syrian opposition activists.

Hezbollah has rendered other important services as part of its combat efforts to defend the regime. They include the training of the shabiba, the armed militias and gangs of the Assad regime. Israel military intelligence estimates that the size of this “popular army” is 50,000 armed members. It is trained by Hezbollah experts and financed by Iran via the al Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The force is expected to be enlarged and to serve as the backbone of the regime if it survives the war. The popular army is based on the model of Iran’s domestic militia, the basij.

[Photo: Freedom House / Flickr]