Israeli, Hizbullah Proxy War in Syria

Israel and Lebanon’s Hizbullah, who fought a war in 2006, are increasingly being drawn into a proxy war in Lebanon. Hizbullah supports the Baath regime of Bashar al-Assad. The Israeli government, after a long period of neutrality, seems increasingly to have decided that the Baath must go. Israel on Sunday bombed what it said were trucks transporting missiles from Syria to Lebanon:

Aljazeera English has a report:

Meanwhile, Hizbullah stands accused of increasing its military support of the Syrian regime. It is not that the Israelis and Hizbullah are in any direct conflict, but they are gradually both becoming more active in Syria on opposite sides. It is an open question how long this process can continue before the conflict does become direct. Hizbullah fears that if it loses its Syrian land bridge with Iran, it will lose the possibility of rocket resupply. Then, its leaders fear, the Israelis will be able again to invade and annex southern Lebanon, stealing the land, water and resources of its Shiites. (Israel planned on doing to southern Lebanon what it has done to the West Bank, occupying it 1982-2000, but Hizbullah’s resistance made that too costly.)

The USG Open Sourve Center translates from the London pan-Arab daily, Al-Sharq al-Awsat, for May 5:

As the shelling of the Jawbar, Barzah, and Al-Yarmuk Camp neighborhoods of Damascus resumed yesterday, a large part of the suspended bridge in Dayr-al-Zawr province, east of Syria, collapsed when an explosive device went off. Also, Al-Bayda in Rif Baniyas was the scene of fighting and tank shelling.

According to the Syrian Revolution General Commission (SRGC), the ongoing fighting in various Syrian provinces has continued, as two people were killed and several others were wounded by shells fired by Lebanese Hizballah fighters in the farm areas around Al-Qusayr, in Rif Homs. A The same SRGC sources also said the (regime’s) warplanes carried out a number of raids on Al-Buwaydah al-Sharqiyah and Al-Salumiyah in the south of RifA Homs, setting fire to many farm areas.

Sham News network reported that the regime forces have used heavy artillery to shell a number of neighborhoods of Homs, including Bab-al-Durayb, Al-Qusur, and Al-Khalidiyah, killing or wounding a number of people and destroying a large part of the infrastructure as well as government offices.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) confirmed that Iranian officers and Hizballah elements, supported by elements of the so-called National Defense Forces, are involved in the control of a large part of the Wadi-al-Sayih neighborhood, which will “enable the regular army to isolate the besieged old neighborhoods of Homs from the besieged Al-Khalidiyah neighborhood.”

SOHR Director Rami Abd-al-Rahman said, in a contact with Al-Sharq al-Awsat, “Iranian and Hizballah officers are running the operations room in the battle for Homs and are controlling the army operations in the city, particularly the street battles.” He warned of “massacres against the Sunni community living in the besieged areas if the army captures these areas.”A The SOHR believes that the aim of the current campaign is to tighten the siege around these areas and bring them under control before pointing out that “the lives of about 800 families, who have been under siege for nearly a year now, including the lives of hundreds of wounded people, will be at serious risk from sectarian revenge if these areas fall.”

The SOHR described last month (April) as “the worst month, as far as death under torture and children’s deaths are concerned.” A In its monthly bulletin, the SOHR gave the death toll in Syria as “3,313 citizens shot dead by the regular forces, that is, an average of 138 people per day,A at the rate of six citizens per hour.A Moreover, 377 children were killed, that is 13 children per day; and 176 were killed under torture, at the rate of six people per day.”

13 Responses

  1. Some of us have a somewhat different view:
    Israel is desperate to initiate a regional confrontation with all of their enemies that will allow them to pursue their territorial expansionist ambitions which will result in the long term in realising their dreams of a Greater Israel. There are a number of doors through which Israel can pass through (sic) in order to kick off their long sought after war. The civil war in Syria is just another door.

    • PM Netanyahu’s father supported the dream of a Greater Israel, however Bibi denies he shares the same viewpoint.

    • Mr. Mathews: I think you’ve absolutely nailed it with your commentary. Very well said!

  2. My take on this is that the Israelis have started attacking Syrian forces not because they want to see the rebels win but because they want to prolong the bloodbath. Just as in the Iran-Iraq war the US instigated both sides so that they would decimate each other and weaken each other. A broken Syria is a weak Syria just like a broken Iraq is a weak Iraq and ultimately a broken Iran. That leaves Israel, the super-power of the Middle East.

    • However Israel could have major problems if Muslim fundamentalist elements, such as Jabhat al-Nusra, gain a controlling influence in a post-Assad government.

      The potential toppling of Assad could leave a power vacuum in which extremist element opportunists could eventualy seize control. There are Free Syrian Army members who have gone on record as saying they will turn their guns on Jabhat al-Nusra the day after Assad leaves power. We then might have a situation not unlike Gaza where secular and religious militias battle for control of the region. Jabhat al-Nusra already occupies significant swaths of territory within northern Syria and has won praise by segments of the Syrian populace for their military prowess.

      The Syrian National Coalition must do its best to stem potential future bloodshed if Assad is deposed. Their former chairman, Moaz al-Khatib, had attempted to get the U.S. State Department to rescind its designation of Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organization.

  3. I saw a number of videos of the Isreali missile strike near Damascus. It appeared that a huge military complex about 15 miles long was targeted. At the end of about 90 seconds there was a massive explosion leaving the whole place in flaming ruins. To me that doesn’t jibe with a missile convoy.

    • Other reports from amongst the activities of “the ignorantly clashing armies of the night” say it was just a chicken farm, no big deal — but wow, that must have been some serious pile of chicken s__t that made up that last blast… link to

    • The story was that a chemical waepons research facilty was struck near Damascus, but also two military bases farther away from Damascus near the Lebanese border were also bombed. This occurred at about 2:00a.m. Sunday local time according to residents.

      The Syrian government has reported a number of dead and wounded in these attacks and is making a report to present to the United Nations.

      • The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights has reported that 42 Syrians have been confirmed dead and 100 or more missing as a resilt of the israeli air attacks.

  4. “The Israeli government, after a long period of neutrality, seems increasingly to have decided that the Baath must go.” Not sure about that. Israel apparently has decided that no Syrian weaponry should get transferred to Hizbollah, but this is a long-standing position. I don’t see that Israel is directly attacking Assad beyond that objective.

    • While I believe that the plausible explanation of Israel is that they do not want arms shipments from Syria to Hezbollah, their assertion of neutrality is questionable.

      The Syrian government has indicated that the airstrikes have occurred near areas where government forces are engagig the armed rebels.

      I am sure the Israeli leaders see a democratically-elected post-Baathist Sunni government non-aligned with Hezbollah as advancing their interests, rather than Assad’s pro-Hezbollah regime.

  5. Hezbollah is one of the very few regional actors that can seriously inhibit Israel’s hegemony in the Middle East. Therefore, it is only to be expected that Israel will exploit any pretext to “degrade” Hezbollah. Consider:
    “In leaked testimony to the Winograd Committee investigating Israel’s mismanagement of the summer 2006 Lebanon war, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert admitted that the war had been carefully planned at least four months ahead of time…Facts such as that Hezbollah fired no rockets into Israel until after Israel’s savage aerial attacks…had begun, or that Israel had left unresolved for years the bitter issues of Lebanese prisoners of war and the occupation of the Shebaa Farms region, only generate more questions when one considers how easily negotiations could have defused growing tensions.” link to

    It is also a recurring trend for Israel to heighten tensions whenever a meaningful US or Arab effort is made to promote peace in the region. Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon is just one example.

  6. Since preemption is the order of the day, and the international bodies, ie U.S.dominated, won’t respond, then I feel that asynchronous warfare is acceptable. ie anything goes!

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