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Defending Damascus and Beirut’s southern suburb

No one was expecting that the heart of Damascus will turn into a battlefield between the Syrian regime and its allies and some opposition factions which have been categorized as not included in the peace talks in Geneva.

When talking about a battle, we are referring to a security incident that is much more than explosions and suicide operations. It is enough for armed men to take to the streets in the Syrian capital and clash with regime forces and the latter’s allies to know that the city’s security is not under the regime’s full control yet.

Those who visited Damascus before the recent confrontations said they were stopped at several checkpoints as they walked merely few hundred meters in the capital at night.

So why hasn’t the regime continued to adopt these measures in the past few days?

Message to UN

The Syrian foreign ministry sent two messages to the UN and the UN Security Council saying “it’s been proven that Turkish, Saudi and Qatari intelligence apparatuses” are involved in the Damascus confrontations.

This time, they did not mention Israel which is often mentioned as it is their favorite when they want to shift attention. Israel was left out although the past few days were full of analyses and stances following the Israeli air strike near the city of Palmyra nine days ago.

Some analysis stipulated that Israel directed a clear message in the field to remind Russia of its vows to limit the influence of Iran and its most important wing, Hezbollah, in Syria. It seems that Moscow was embarrassed and it covered this by summoning the Israeli ambassador in Moscow.

After these developments were no longer in the limelight, some reports claimed there was an American-Russian rapprochement regarding Syria.

Time will reveal what happened following the air strike near Palmyra – although this strike was not the last according to a report by the Iranian Tasnim news agency which said that the Israeli i24 television channel “claimed that the Zionist regime carried out an air strike against Mount Qasioun but attributed the report to Syrian media outlets.”

Security plan

Meanwhile, other media reports said a security plan was launched from Beirut’s southern suburb and Beqaa – Hezbollah’s strongholds – to confront chaos. This is not the first time we hear of security plans in these two areas.

According to some sources, Hezbollah is still very interested in the fate of businessman Qassem Tajeddine who was detained in Morocco. These sources say Tajeddine is one of Hezbollah’s vital financial resources – a resource that is worth a few billion dollars.

Ahmed Ayash

However, before judging this new plan, we must address the recent circumstances which may have resulted in these security measures. According to some sources, Hezbollah is still very interested in the fate of businessman Qassem Tajeddine who was detained in Morocco. These sources say Tajeddine is one of Hezbollah’s vital financial resources – a resource that is worth a few billion dollars.

Therefore, they are on the lookout for the repercussions of this development on Lebanon and outside it. Detaining Tajeddine came around the same time Israeli Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot spoke about the death of Hezbollah official Mustafa Badreddine in Syria last year.

There is noticeable activity from Damascus to Beirut’s southern suburb. So will anything follow the final fall of ISIS soon? All eyes are now on Raqqa.

This was first published in An Nahar newspaper on March 26, 2017.