[Marxism] Foreign mujahedeen in Syria
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Nov 15 07:47:48 MST 2013
NY Times November 14, 2013
Hezbollah Chief Says His Forces Will Stay in Syria
By ALAN COWELL and ANNE BARNARD
LONDON — The head of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group whose
armed followers are fighting in Syria on the side of President Bashar
al-Assad, pledged on Thursday that his forces would remain there as long
The leader, Hassan Nasrallah, spoke at a Shiite ceremony in his
stronghold in southern Beirut, the Lebanese capital, held to observe
Ashura, one of the most important holidays on the Shiite religious
calendar. It commemorates the killing of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the
Mr. Nasrallah’s battle-hardened fighters joined the fray in Syria
earlier this year to recapture a border town, and Mr. Assad’s foes say
they have also been deployed on other fronts in the south near Damascus,
the capital, and Aleppo in the north.
“As long as the reasons remain, our presence there will remain,” Mr.
Nasrallah told thousands of his followers.
“Our fighters, our mujahedeen, are present on Syrian soil,” Mr.
Nasrallah declared, adding that they were in Syria also to support
Lebanon and Palestinian causes, “to confront all the dangers of the
international, regional and takfiri attack on this country and on this
region.” Takfiri refers to the extremist Sunni fighters aligned with Al
Qaeda who have joined the attempt to overthrow Mr. Assad.
The Syrian leader is a close ally of Shiite-led Iran, Hezbollah’s
patron, and is from the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite
Islam. The civil war, which has claimed more than 110,000 lives and
forced millions of Syrians to flee their homes, has deepened the
polarization between Sunnis and Shiites in many parts of the Middle East.
Mr. Nasrallah’s remarks seemed to be directed specifically at the
fighting within Syria and were not seen as a general call to arms,
He also said Hezbollah, the dominant force in Lebanese politics, would
not yield to demands from political rivals to pull out of Syria as a
condition for resolving the impasse that has left Lebanon adrift under a
caretaker government. He told his audience that he would not trade what
he termed an existential fight in Syria for seats in the Lebanese cabinet.
As a security precaution, Mr. Nasrallah sometimes appears before his
supporters by video link, reflecting Hezbollah’s concerns that he could
be the target of an attack by Israel. In 2006, Hezbollah forces battled
Israeli troops in a 34-day war.
But Mr. Nasrallah made his remarks in person on Thursday, protected by
bodyguards and other measures, including a ban on vehicles in the area
where he spoke. It was his second public appearance in two days and his
third this year.
Mr. Nasrallah’s comments seemed likely to further buoy Syrian government
forces. On Wednesday, loyalist troops recaptured a suburb south of
Damascus and pressed other offensives outside Aleppo in what appeared to
be a big push to regain territory ahead of proposed internationally
sponsored peace talks.
While no date has been formally announced for the negotiations, Al
Watan, a Syrian newspaper that supports the government, reported that
Dec. 12 had been set for a conference in Geneva. The newspaper cited a
Western diplomatic source in Paris. The paper also quoted a Syrian
source as saying that the country was still consulting with its ally
Russia on final plans for the conference.
On Wednesday, state news media showed government troops continuing to
make inroads in a string of suburbs south of Damascus by cutting off
some supply lines to rebel-held towns. But despite back-and-forth claims
of success by the rebels and the government, little has shifted on the
front lines around the capital over the past year. In many places, only
a few hundred yards separate the entrenched opponents.
The war has also frequently threatened to draw in Syria’s neighbors. The
latest such episode came on Thursday, when security officials told The
Associated Press that at least seven rockets fired from Syria landed in
a Hezbollah stronghold in eastern Lebanon. Syrian military helicopters
were also in action in the border area, The A.P. reported.
Alan Cowell reported from London, and Anne Barnard from Beirut, Lebanon.
Christine Hauser contributed reporting from New York.
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