Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah has reportedly begun to remove
some of its troops fighting in Syria in support of President Bashar
Assad, The Times of London reported on Friday.
report cited diplomatic and intelligence sources in Beirut who said
there had been a reduction in the number of the group's troops in Syria.
Sources close to Hezbollah "denied that it had acted due to
political pressure" from Lebanon or elsewhere claiming the withdrawal
was due to "tactical considerations on the ground."
Hezbollah also denied it has withdrawn "significant numbers" of fighters from Syria, according to the Times report.
Meanwhile, a senior diplomatic source told the Times that “there were close to 10,000 fighters in Syria but it’s less than that now, a few thousand.”
the summer, Hezbollah has pulled out of Dera'a and concentrated on the
key front of Eastern Ghouta on the edge of Damascus, where Assad’s
troops have been fighting to break the rebels’ control, according to the
Rebel sources and Hezbollah combatants say a new fight may break out in the mountains between Damascus and Homs, the Times said.
In June, Syrian government troops backed by Hezbollah guerrillas seized the western village of Buwayda extinguishing final rebel resistance around the town of Qusair in
a significant success for Assad. Hezbollah's role has proved decisive
in the Syrian war, but it has also fueled sectarian tensions that have
inflamed the region.
Hezbollah and its Iranian backers both
follow the Shi'ite strand of Islam, while most of the rebels are Sunni
Muslims. Assad himself is from the Alawite minority, an offshoot of
Sunni Muslim preachers across the Middle East have at times condemned Iran and its "Satanic" Shi'ite allies.
In what was thought by some to be spillover of sectarian tensions from Syria into neighboring Lebanon, a massive car bomb in July ripped through a Hezbollah Beirut stronghold wounding 53 people. Another car bomb killed 20 people in a Hezbollah neighborhood of south Beirut in August.
Reuters contributed to this report.