A Hezbollah member reacts while Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah talks on a screen during a televised speech at a festival celebrating Resistance and Liberation Day in Nabatiyeh, Lebanon.
(photo credit: ALI HASHISHO/REUTERS)
Some 43% of Hezbollah fighters who have been killed in the Syrian civil war died fighting for goals disconnected from Lebanese interests, according to an intelligence report released late on Saturday.
The report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center also said that 14% of the approximately 1,250 Hezbollah fighters who were killed in the war had died for purely Iranian goals.
This means that more than half of Hezbollah fighters died for goals which many in Lebanon may not support.
Although the center said that it has records indicating 1,139 Hezbollah fighters were killed, it estimates that over 100 more were killed, but their names were not properly recorded due to difficulties on the battlefield.
The report also said that 46% of Hezbollah fighters died preventing the spread of jihadist terrorist groups into Lebanon, while another 11% died advancing general Shi’ite interests which could overlap with Lebanese interests.
The intelligence center said that records indicating where Hezbollah fighters died on a map helped to indicate what military goals they died for.
For example, Hezbollah fighters who were killed in northern, southern and eastern Syria were killed “serving clearly Iranian interests,” said the report. However, they were all far away from the Lebanese border and even farther from Shi’ite holy sites like the mosque and burial site of Sayyidah Zaynab, south of Damascus.
According to the messianic Twelver Shia Muslim tradition followed by Iran and Hezbollah, the mosque contains the grave of Zaynab, the daughter of Ali and Fatimah and granddaughter of the prophet Muhammad. Fighters defending the Zaynab shrine would be included in the 11% who were advancing broader Shi’ite interests.
In addition, the report noted that many Hezbollah fighters were photographed with tags designating both their loyalty to the Shi’ite-Lebanese group as well as tags of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Besides those statistics, the report said that 10% of those killed were senior experienced Hezbollah commanders, including special forces.
Based on those numbers, the center said that Hezbollah had lost significant operational experience for any future military engagements, even as its young fighters who survived are now more battle-hardened.
The report also analyzed from which parts of Lebanon the killed Hezbollah fighters came.
It found that 662 of the 1,139 came from southern Lebanon, Hezbollah’s epicenter.
The next largest number came from the Bekaa Valley, whereas a small number came from the Beirut area.
According to the report, these demographics indicate that readiness to fight for Hezbollah in Syria was relatively limited to its ideological strongholds, though there was broader support for those protecting Lebanon’s border.
In terms of the rate of Hezbollah fighter deaths, the largest volume was 313 recorded in 2015.
Those numbers have dropped steadily until today, when they dropped dramatically to 25 fighters since Bashar Assad’s regime has needed less assistance from Hezbollah.
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