Hezbollah supporters in Beirut 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
UNIFIL patrols in southern Lebanon have increasingly faced confrontations with Hezbollah as the number of Lebanese Army soldiers has dwindled in the border region, Beirut-based The Daily Star reported Wednesday.
According to the report, the peacekeepers' patrols expressed frustration with obstacles placed in front of them by Hezbollah, meant to demonstrate the group's power amid regional unrest and Israeli displays of strength.
The lack of Lebanese troops on the southern border, now numbering about 3,000, presents a vulnerable situation for UNIFIL facing Hezbollah, the report stated. Though according to UN Security Council Resolution 1701, the Lebanese Army is charged with controlling the southern border with support from UNIFIL, The Daily Star
“The Lebanese Army is nowhere near that right now. In fact, they are further away from that than before,” the report quoted one UNIFIL officer as saying.
In a televised speech on Tuesday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah hinted that his armed Shia group would increase intervention in Syria on behalf of President Bashar Assad's loyalists if deemed necessary, Qatar-based Al-Jazeera reported Wednesday.
According to the report, Nasrallah said the Syrian rebels would not succeed in toppling the government, adding that Assad's forces had "real friends in the region and the world who will not allow Syria to fall into the hands of America or Israel."
Hezbollah is recognized as supporting the Syrian military regime in Shia border villages in Lebanon, the report said, adding that Nasrallah's recent statements stand as the most forward indication that the faction was prepared to become more involved in aiding the government forces loyal to Assad.
Rebels reportedly accused Hezbollah and its main backer, Iran of providing troops to help Assad forces squash the rebels' uprising.
Hezbollah and Iran, have been fighting to keep Assad’s regime in power
as it faces a Sunni rebel uprising supported by other Sunni nations in the region.
Ariel Ben Solomon contributed to this report.