Hezbollah reportedly orchestrated a major ambush on hundreds of rebel fighters just east of Assad’s stronghold in Damascus. Is the Iranian-backed Islamist group winning Assad’s war for him? USA Today reports:
“Hezbollah was the main group that implemented the ambush,” said Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group opposed to Assad.The group said its contacts inside Syria report that the fighting was led by Hezbollah in tandem with Syrian government forces. A Hezbollah commander interviewed by USA TODAY confirmed that the group is taking the lead now in many battles in Syria.“We have recaptured about 70% of the Qalamoun territories,” said Abou Ali, a Hezbollah commander on a brief respite in Beirut. […]“Assad and his friends do not appear to believe that there is no military solution,” [says James Jeffrey, a fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy]. “If that is the direction the Syrian conflict is going, then Washington will eventually face a de facto military victory in the very center of the Middle East by an Assad rump state, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia, on top of the humanitarian tragedy and attrition of U.S. global prestige.”
Hezbollah’s Al Manar news station is claiming that the ambush in Ghouta struck mostly foreign Sunni jihadists, though it is nearly impossible to confirm their reports. Pro-Assad forces are attempting to cut off rebel access to critical supply lines along the Lebanese border, while also securing the area between Damascus and Latakia, Assad’s coastal stronghold and home to Russia’s largest foreign-based electronic spying post.Hezbollah has been sending fighters to fight and die in Syria for some time now. Some have even speculated that Syria might become “Hezbollah’s Vietnam”. But if the Lebanese group’s numbers are rising and if its well-armed fighters are cooperating efficiently with the Syrian Army, then the outgunned, undersupplied rebels are in trouble.