'Hezbollah acting in Syria against protesters'

Revolutionary Guard official says the Lebanese group responded to Iranian request to safeguard Syria assets.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
January 22, 2012 19:44
1 minute read.
A Syrian tank outside Homs.

Syria tank Homs 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Hezbollah forces were activated in Syria to prevent the takeover of sensitive Iranian assets in the region by anti-government protesters, a senior official in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard said Sunday.

Speaking to Arab news outlet Al-Arabiya, the official said that an Iranian representative had visited Syria to coordinate the assistance, adding that Hezbollah responded swiftly to the request for assistance.

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Rebel groups have had some success against Assad-loyalist troops, and have managed to take control of several towns near Damascus. Assad's crackdown on protesters has resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 people, according to UN estimates.

Turning to the issue of potential foreign intervention in Syria, the official said that "we are coordinating with both Russia and China to deter any external interference." He added that Russia has pledged aircraft carriers and ships to protect Syria against any potential external threat.

The official addressed Israel's role in the region, claiming that "the Zionist enemy" is preparing to invade Syria through the Bekaa valley in Lebanon. He also said that Israel is seeking to form new alliances against the Shi'ites.

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Arab foreign ministers met in Cairo on Sunday, deciding to extend the Arab League observer mission mandate, which expired on Thursday. Hundreds of people have been killed since the monitors arrived in Syria. Supporters say the mission reduced violence somewhat, but critics say it provided diplomatic cover for Assad to pursue his crackdown.

The Syrian authorities accuse foreign-backed militants of killing 2,000 members of the security forces since the unrest began in March, inspired by Arab uprisings elsewhere.


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