COUNTER TERRORISM: The Rise of Hezbollah in Syria
WASHINGTON – Back in February, 4GWAR attended the first major address by new Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. At that time, Johnson said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has become “very focused” on Syria and the foreign jihadists streaming into the war-torn country to aid the rebels battling the regime of President Bashir al-Assad.
Johnson said DHS was concerned about what those fighters will do when they return to their home countries across the Middle East, Africa – and North America, indoctrinated in a violent Islamic mission.
On Friday (April 11) we heard about another threat emanating from Syria – the rise of the Iranian-backed, Lebanese-based Hezbollah militia as a military force in Syria.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington-based think tank, issued a report last week on Hezbollah in Syria. Among the findings: that Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia which has been battling Israel and the West for decades, has become a major player in the Syrian conflict.
Hezbollah has been designated as a Global Terrorist organization by the United States since 1995 for a long history of terrorist attacks against American citizens and officials – including the bombing of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon during the 1980s.
According to the ISW report, Hezbollah has moved beyond its role as an adviser and trainer of Syrian troops and taken over a direct combat role against the mostly Sunni rebels battling Assad’s forces.
Iran and Syria have been important supporters of Hezbollah and the Syrian conflict threatened to disrupt that so-called Axis of Resistance. Hezbollah’s participation in the conflict has shored-up Syria’s lagging army, protected the hub of Iran’s power projection in the Eastern Mediterranean and given Hezbollah, as a fighting force, experience in urban warfare. But it has come at a cost – hundreds of causalities — over the past year.
One key take-away, says Marissa Sullivan, an ISW research fellow and the report’s author, is that Hezbollah, the Syrian military, Iranian and Iraqi Shi’ite fighters have evolved into “a very well-integrated fighting force” that can coordinate, plan and deploy efficiently. “This is a huge innovation that has come out of the conflict in Syria,” she told a briefing on the report last week.
Before al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack on the United States in 2001, Hezbollah was responsible for killing more Americans in terrorist attacks than any other terrorist group, U.S. Treasury Department officials told a 2012 press briefing.
Hezbollah started carrying out bombings and kidnappings in Lebanon but quickly expanded its violent campaign to a global stage, carrying out and supporting terrorist attacks in South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, and various countries in the Middle East.
Entry filed under: Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, Skills and Training, Special Operations. Tags: Counter Insurgency, counter terrorism, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Middle East, Syria, Syrian Civil War.