This week’s fighting in Beirut erupted after the government launched a legal crackdown on Hizbollah’s military communications network – a move blasted as a declaration of war by Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the movement’s spiritual leader.
It brought to a head tensions that have been simmering for 17 months between the Iranian and Syrian-backed group and the anti-Syrian government.
The political crisis has paralysed the country and left it without a president since last November.
Hizbollah was the only Lebanese faction allowed to keep its weapons after the civil war ended and remains a potent force, as events of the past few days have shown.
The government wants to reduce its military might and, consequently, Iran and Syria’s influence over the country.
Sources say the Shi’ite group intends to maintain its grip on Lebanon until it can wring concessions out of the government on their wide-ranging political disputes.