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5,000 Hezbollah, Iranian fighters spearhead battles near Israeli borders

English.news.cn   2015-02-14 17:06:41

DAMASCUS, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- As many as 5,000 fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah backed by Iranian and Syrian fighters are spearheading the current battles against the rebels in southern Syria, close to the borders with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, a monitoring group reported Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the battle in southern Syria, specifically the triangle between southern the capital Damascus, southern Qunaitera and northern Daraa provinces, aimed at capturing key hills and towns that fell to the rebels in recent months.

It said another 5,000 fighters could also join the battle upon the request of those fighters to consolidate their positions, mainly in Qunaitera.

Meanwhile, the Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition umbrella in exile, criticized the international community's inaction toward the battles in the southern region, in terms of the overt involvement of Hezbollah and other Iranian militants in the battles.

The wide-scale offensive in southern Syria started last Sunday, and a Syrian officer told the Syrian state TV last week that the battles there are fought in cooperation with Hezbollah.

Both the opposition activists and state media outlets acknowledged the advancement of the Syrian troops and its allies in that region.

Military experts believe that opening the southern front near Israel is part of Hezbollah and Iran's response to the presumed Israeli attack that killed an Iranian general and Hezbollah fighters in Qunaitera last month.

Israeli media, namely the Jerusalem Post, cited sources as saying that Syrian opposition and rebels in southern Syria urged Israel to hit the Iranian-backed militants in Qunaitera.

Syrian analysts said the aim of the battle is to thwart what they called "Israel plan" to impose a buffer zone using the anti-Syrian government militants in that part of Syria, akin to what it had done during the Lebanese Civil War, when the Israelis used Israeli-backed Lebanese militants to protect its borders with Lebanon.

The Syrian state media has focused its coverage on the battles there and their significance to the course of events in the south.

After last month's attack on Hezbollah fighters in Syria, the Shiite group's leader, Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah, said the rules of engagement with Israel has changed and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has reportedly permitted a limited group of Iranian youth to fight along with "Iraqi, Syrian and Lebanese brothers."

Syria is deeming the broad offensive near the Israeli borders as a blow to Israel, which is observing the situation in the battlefield with a wary eye.

Analysts also said that Hezbollah want to show Israel that it's capable of posing threats to its borders, not only in Lebanon, but also in the Golan Heights.

Video footages aired by the state TV showed parts of the battles there, with Syrian troops using what appeared to be new military gears and tanks in that battle.

Editor: xuxin
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