Russia is arming Hezbollah, say two of the group’s field commanders

The Daily Beast reports: Lebanese Hezbollah field commanders with troops fighting in Syria tell The Daily Beast they are receiving heavy weapons directly from Russia with no strings attached. The commanders say there is a relationship of complete coordination between the Assad regime in Damascus, Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia. At the same time they say the direct interdependence between Russia and Hezbollah is increasing.

The United States and the European Union have both listed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization with global reach and accuse it of serving Tehran’s interests. But there is more to it than that. Organized, trained, funded, and armed by Iran with Syrian help after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, it initially gained fame for suicide bombings hitting Israeli, French, and American targets there, including the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut where 241 American servicemen were killed in 1983.

Over the years Hezbollah grew to be a parallel army in Lebanon, stronger than the national military, and for years it was regarded in much of the Arab world as the avant-garde of the fight against Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory. It also developed into the most powerful political party in the fractured Lebanese parliamentary system. But its reputation as a nationalist force has been tarnished since it began fighting in Syria to defend the Assad regime, and as The Daily Beast reported in December, some of its soldiers have refused to go back.

The Daily Beast met the commanders on separate occasions at the end of December and the beginning of this year in Dahiya, a majority Shia working-class southern suburb of Beirut. They declined to use their real names because they are not authorized to speak to the media, but both say Hezbollah is directly receiving long-range tactical missiles, laser guided rockets, and anti-tank weapons from Russia. [Continue reading…]

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