Syria has passed another milestone of destructive potential: the Lebanese Hezbollah have abandoned their policy of denying that they are supporting the Assad regime.
They have said publicly that their fighters are in action in Syria.
The strong Lebanese Shiite movement’s leader Hassan Nasrallah said: ‘‘An entirely new phase began a few weeks ago, of safeguarding the resistance and protecting its back and safeguarding Lebanon and protecting its back – and this is everyone’s responsibility.’‘
Hezbollah’s military engagement was swiftly associated with political intentions directed from Iran, Syria’s regional ally.
Former Lebanese prime minister Fuad Siniora has made this a clear accusation. He said: “This party is not a Lebanese party. It is is an Iranian group which works in and from Lebanon. Therefore, contrary to all the claims Hezbollah is trying to spread among the Lebanese – that it is a resistance group – we find out now that they are putting on a different face.”
A representative of the Syrian Sunni opposition, Adib Shishakli, said Hezbollah’s support for Assad was a declaration of war against the people of Syria: “It also shows that the regime in Syria is collapsing and in need of any outside help and interference from [Assad’s] friends.”
More than 100 Hezbollah fighters have been killed in Syria’s civil war so far – while their leaders repeatedly denied the movement’s direct combat involvement through the escalations in the violence.
These are Shiites fighting not their traditional enemy Israel but other Arabs.