'Dissent within Hezbollah over involvement in Syria'

Unconfirmed report cites unidentified sources as saying Hezbollah fighters refuse to support President Bashar Assad.

hezbollah521 (photo credit: Khalil Hassan/Reuters)
(photo credit: Khalil Hassan/Reuters)
Some members of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah are upset over the role the movement is playing in the Syrian war by supporting regime President Bashar Assad, according to a report on Wednesday in the Saudi-backed London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat.
The casualties it is suffering in the regions of Damascus and Homs as it fights alongside Assad’s forces has triggered debate within the movement.
The criticism is mostly coming from families of the Hezbollah fighters that are in Syria, but “it has started to infiltrate the ranks of the fighters themselves, with some of them refusing to fight,” according to unidentified sources quoted by the paper.
However, the report noted that the movement’s supporters were united in defending the Lady Zeinab Shi’ite religious site in Damascus.
The report should be taken with extra caution, because it originates from those supporting the anti-Assad rebels, and it has not been confirmed by other sources.
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On Wednesday, Syrian rebels urged Lebanon to reign in Hezbollah and stop it from attacking them in Syria, reported the Lebanese Daily Star.
“The Syrian National Coalition calls on the Lebanese government to exert control over its borders and put an immediate stop to Hezbollah’s military operations on Syrian territory,” the Syrian National Coalition said in a statement.
This came after Syrian rebels fired into Lebanon last weekend in retaliation for Hezbollah attacks.
Meanwhile, NOW Lebanon contributor Qassem Kassir wrote on Thursday that Hezbollah views the Syrian conflict as existential.
“With the passing of time, their belief in the dangers of what is happening in Syria and the importance of defending [Syria] is increasing because the battle there is an existential and decisive one,” according to sources he quotes close to Hezbollah.
NOW also quoted sources on Wednesday stating that four Hezbollah fighters killed in Syria were buried on Tuesday in Nabatiya, which is in south Lebanon.
Many Hezbollah fighters have died in Syria and are being held at the Sheikh Ragheb Harb Hospital in Nabatiya, as the organization is burying the fighters in installments so as not to draw attention.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs published a paper by Dr. Jacques Neriah stating that the Syrian regime is strong enough to withstand large losses to its territory, despite predictions that Assad’s fall is immanent.
“All those who hurriedly announced the demise of the Assad regime realize to their dismay that the existing power structures are strong enough to endure a war of attrition with the rebels,” he wrote.
He went on to state that the coalition of minorities supporting Assad remains strong.
A key point Neriah makes is that most of the information coming from Syria is from biased sources. He names the often-quoted NGO, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is part of the Islamist-dominated opposition forces.