Middle East Eye reports: Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday said his Lebanese Shia movement would boost its support for Syria’s government after one of its top commanders was killed there last week.
“We will increase and bolster our presence in Syria,” Nasrallah said in a speech during a ceremony to mark a week since Mustafa Badreddine, the head of Hezbollah’s military wing, was killed near Damascus.
“More commanders than before will go to Syria. We will be present in different ways and we will continue the fight,” he said.
Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria was considered vital in shoring up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government earlier in the more than five-year war against opposition rebels backed by Gulf Arab states and Western countries.
Its fighters secured most of the Lebanese border region, cutting vital rebel supply lines, and reasserted government control in most of the southern suburbs of Damascus, including the Sayyida Zeinab Shia shrine district.
Hezbollah said last week that Badreddine had been killed by rebel artillery fire, with Nasrallah on Friday vowing to avenge his death by inflicting a “great and final defeat” on those responsible.
But the circumstances of Badreddine’s death remain unclear with earlier media reports citing Israeli security sources that he may have been killed by Syrian pro-government or Iranian forces in a dispute over Hezbollah’s role in the conflict.
According to those reports, Badreddine had been planning to withdraw many of Hezbollah’s forces back to Lebanon after suffering heavy losses, possibly a third of his fighters. The area where he was killed is technically under the control of the Syrian army and is also believed to host Iranian fighters. [Continue reading…]