Assad loses part of his ground forces in Syria, Hezbollah withdraws
Lebanese politicians predict the imminent departure of the Shiite military-political organization Hezbollah from Syria, where it has been fighting since 2012 on the side of President Bashar al-Assad, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing local sources.
In particular, this was stated by the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (SPD) of Lebanon, Gibran Basil, who in the past served as foreign minister. He announced his supporters’ support for the idea of Lebanese neutrality in international conflicts and called on ordinary citizens to support the decision of the “party of Allah”.
It follows from Basil’s statement that the corresponding decision is on the table with the Hezbollah leadership. “Certainly [Hezbollah] has an idea of returning from Syria, and we, the Lebanese, must accept and support such a decision,” the former minister said.
He expressed confidence that Lebanon has enough of the problems that the neighboring countries have experienced, and that it is necessary to deal with domestic political concerns. Representatives of the “party of Allah” did not officially comment on the statements of the head of the SPD, however, sources of Asharq al-Awsat, close to the military-political organization, said that “so far there was nothing serious that should have been announced regarding the presence in Syria.”
“Over the past two years, the role of the “party of Allah” in Syria has changed dramatically due to the reduction of military operations. As for the idea of withdrawal, it is related to the process of the withdrawal of all foreign armed forces, and this should happen within two years”, explained the source of Asharq al-Awsat.
In fact, on the eve of the leaders of Hezbollah promised retribution to those who diplomatically approached Israel at the initiative of the United States. So, in the statement of the “party of Allah” the rulers of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were condemned.
“Resistance forces will respond to the betrayal of the regimes that stabbed the Palestinian people in the back and went to reconciliation with Israel”, the official statement said.
According to Hezbollah, such a step has no justification, because “the free Arab and Islamic peoples support the Palestinian right to liberate their land and reject normalization and cooperation with Israel.” In many ways, the statement of the “party of Allah” repeated what has already been said about the Arab-Israeli normalization by the leadership of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is considered the direct patron of the Shiite organization in Lebanon.
Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (Britain), said in a conversation with the Arab press that Hezbollah’s mission in Syria to this day is to compensate for the inability of the Syrian government forces to control all its territories. Shiite militants have long played a decisive role in Assad’s ground forces. The decision to withdraw supporters of the “party of Allah” can only be taken by Iran, which is deeply integrated into the Syrian processes, the head of the monitoring group emphasizes.
Hezbollah has played an important role in the Syrian civil conflict since 2012. She sent thousands of militants there to support official Damascus. Only in July of this year, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah announced that the organization was reducing its presence in Syria, pointing to a “decrease in the intensity of hostilities” in the Syrian theater. However, in reality, Nasrallah’s statement could be nothing more than a manipulation in order to weaken the attention of regional opponents in the person of Israel to a number of areas where the concentration of Shiite irregular formations is high.
It is possible that Basil’s statements pursue exactly the same goals. The withdrawal of Iranian and pro-Iranian formations from Syria at this stage will mean surrender and the transfer of this arena to Russia’s sphere of influence. And Tehran would not like to make such a gesture under any circumstances.
War in Syria
In February, Turkey lost at least 62 troops killed in Syria, nearly 100 soldiers were wounded, dozens of Turkish armored vehicles were destroyed and more than ten drones, including drone, were shot down. Washington has repeatedly accused Moscow of involvement in the deaths of Turkish soldiers, Russia rejects these allegations.
In early March, the presidents of Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, concluded an agreement according to which a ceasefire came into force in the Idlib de-escalation zone.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad later said that if the US and Turkish military did not leave the country, Damascus would be able to use force.
The reason for the Russian-Turkish negotiations was a sharp aggravation of the situation in Idlib, where in January a large-scale offensive by the Syrian army against the positions of the armed opposition and terrorists began.
Government forces recaptured nearly half of the Idlib de-escalation zone and left behind a number of Turkish observation posts. After that, Ankara sharply increased its military contingent in the region and launched the operation “Spring Shield” to push the Syrian troops. Turkey is also supported by militants loyal to it.