Senior Hezbollah Officials Acknowledge Group’s Presence in Syria and Beyond
A top Hezbollah official acknowledged that the terrorist organization remains in Syria and is consolidating its presence across the Middle East, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reports.
In a July 21 speech, Hezbollah’s executive council chief Hashem Safi al-Din bragged about his organization’s role in helping the Syrian regime take over southern Syria and fueling conflicts throughout the region.
Al-Din is a member of Hezbollah’s Shura council, and is regarded as one of its most influential figures.
Another Hezbollah official, deputy executive council chief Sheikh Ali Da’mush, also praised the terrorist group’s successes against militant groups in south Syria during a statement broadcast on Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV channel a day before al-Din’s speech.
Before these declarations, Hezbollah avoided publicly admitting to its role in helping the dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime retake territory in southern Syria.
These high-level statements are meant to shore up support from Hezbollah’s constituents, and signal the group’s resolve to outside powers such as Israel, the United States, and even Russia, the Meir Amit report said. Recent reports suggest that Russia could be considering ways to limit Iran and Hezbollah’s military presence in southern Syria.
Hezbollah’s leadership is now making it clear that they will not withdraw from the area without a fight.
“Anyone who imagines that the United States or the Arab states or any other country in the world can determine the future of the region, from Yemen to Iraq, to Syria, to Lebanon, to Palestine, to the entire region — without the presence of the resistance [Hezbollah], is mistaken,” al-Din said.
Hezbollah has been a decisive factor in preserving the Assad regime throughout the Syrian civil war. It originally viewed Assad’s collapse as an existential threat, given its reliance on Iranian weapons transfers through Syria. But after its early successes, Hezbollah’s leadership saw an opportunity to open a new Syrian base of operations to threaten Israel. The terrorist group’s leadership is increasingly confident, and is now looking to expand its presence in ongoing conflicts beyond Syria.
Steven Emerson is considered one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks, financing and operations. He serves as the Executive Director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, a non-profit organization that serves one of the world’s largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.