News / Middle East

    Syrian Conflict Draws in Assad Ally Hezbollah, Widens His Rift with Hamas

    The body of a Syrian woman is seen near Izaz's Hospital after being shot by a sniper in the countryside around Izaz, near the Turkish border with Syria, October 1, 2012.
    The body of a Syrian woman is seen near Izaz's Hospital after being shot by a sniper in the countryside around Izaz, near the Turkish border with Syria, October 1, 2012.
    Syria's civil war appears to be drawing in Lebanese Hezbollah militants allied to President Bashar al-Assad while at the same time widening a rift between the Syrian leader and his former Palestinian militant allies Hamas.

    In reports published Tuesday, Western news agencies quote Lebanese sources and Syrian activists as saying that a senior Hezbollah commander and two other Hezbollah fighters have been killed near the Syrian town of Qusair, bordering northern Lebanon. The reports say the three Hezbollah men were killed in a Syrian rebel ambush on Saturday or Sunday.

    Syrian rebels have accused Hezbollah of helping President Assad to fight an 18-month uprising against his autocratic rule. The Lebanese militant group has maintained strong political support for the Syrian president during the conflict but has not admitted to any military activity inside Syria.

    Hezbollah identified the slain Hezbollah commander as Ali Hussein Nassif. It said he and the other militants were killed while engaging in jihad duties but did not disclose the location. Hezbollah's al-Manar television network broadcast the funerals of the fighters in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley on Tuesday.

    In another development, Syrian state television has made a scathing verbal attack on Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, a former ally of Assad. In an editorial broadcast late Monday, the network accused Mashaal of turning his back on the Syrian government and betraying the Palestinian cause.

    The commentary appeared to be a reaction to Mashaal's appearance at an Ankara conference organized by Turkey's ruling party on Sunday. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been one of President Assad's strongest critics in the region.

    Syria granted Hamas leader Mashaal a refuge in 1999, when Jordan expelled him for involvement in illicit activities. Syria shared Hamas' hostility toward Israel and included the Palestinian militant group in an "axis of resistance" with Iran and Hezbollah.

    But, Mashaal began distancing his Sunni Muslim group from Assad in the past year, as the minority Alawite leader intensified a deadly crackdown on the rebellion, led by Syria's majority Sunnis. Mashaal closed the Hamas office in Damascus earlier this year and relocated to predominantly-Sunni Qatar, while other Hamas officials moved to Egypt, where a Sunni Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, took office in June.

    In the latest fighting in Syria, a rights group told VOA that government and rebel forces exchanged fire in almost every province on Tuesday, from Daraa in the south to Aleppo in the north. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 20 people were killed in Daraa, while five bodies were found in Aleppo.



    Syria's state-run SANA news agency said security forces operating in Aleppo killed a group of terrorists destroyed "explosives factories."

    Meanwhile, Russia urged the NATO alliance not to intervene militarily in the Syrian conflict in support of the rebels. Speaking in Moscow on Tuesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said NATO also should not "introduce initiatives such as humanitarian corridors or buffer zones."

    Assad is a longtime Russian ally. Moscow has vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions that would have condemned his suppression of the revolt.

    Iraq has largely avoided taking sides in the Syrian conflict, but it appeared to increase the pressure on Assad on Tuesday, ordering an Iranian plane bound for Syria to land in Baghdad to be searched for illicit weapons. Iraqi officials said no weapons were found and the plane was allowed to continue its journey to Damascus.

    It was the first Iraqi weapons inspection of an Iranian aircraft since Washington called on Baghdad to prevent Iran from flying military supplies to the Syrian government through Iraqi airspace.

    Photo Gallery

    • A picture shows damages in a section of the souk in the old city of Aleppo after the area was shelled by Syrian regime forces on September 30, 2012.
    • This image taken from video obtained from Shaam News Network (SNN) shows a fire rages at a medieval souk in Aleppo, Syria, September 29, 2012.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters gather at an old Turkish bath, or hamam, which served as a rebel base, in the souk of the old city of Aleppo, Syria, September 24, 2012.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter sleeps at an old Turkish bath, or hamam, which served as a rebel base, in the souk of the old city of Aleppo, Syria, September 24, 2012.
    • Free Syrian Army fighter sit at one of their positions next to closed shops at the souk in the old city of Aleppo city, Syria, September 24, 2012.
    • In this picture taken on Monday September 24, 2012, A Free Syrian Army fighter, left, helps traders, right, as they remove their stock from their shops, in the souk of the old city of Aleppo, Syria. September 24, 2012.
    • People shop at the main market, or souk, in the Syrian city of Aleppo, June 23, 2010.

    Michael Lipin

    Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous from: America
    October 03, 2012 12:34 PM
    It has been repeated on forums for over a year what has happened in Syria. The events in Syria started as peaceful marches for basic human rights for the Syrian people. The Regime responded with batons, beatings and bullets. When protesters tried to defend themselves, the Regime responded with tanks. When the Syrian people fought back, the Regime responded with massacres, helicopter gunships and indiscriminate bombings by planes. So here how the story ends, the Assad Gangster Regime and its supporters will run to Iran in exile or literally be murdered in the streets in revenge. It will take years to rebuild Syria and establishing a secular democracy in the aftermath of this carnage will be very challenging.

    by: Romildo Caldas from: Brazil
    October 02, 2012 3:31 PM
    Certainly, Bashar al-Alassad is a Dictator. He wants to perpetuate himself in power. It would be better that, an Estabelished Agreement be signed by the two warring factions, with the proposal of Immediate Democratic Elections. Militar International Intervention; NEVER!

    by: Michael from: USA
    October 02, 2012 9:29 AM
    Its tragedy when the official who stops you for questioning has the power to shoot you dead, this is where many American do not comprehend

    by: Norman from: USA
    October 02, 2012 7:56 AM
    UN cannot impose one sided ban on atrocities. It must ban the terrorists who are doing the same thing to Syria they did to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The rebels must be stopped from destruction as should be government forces. Without peace keepers on the ground, accepted by all sides, Syria will become a desolate place for humans. Warmongers do not care about people. They like to sell weapons and destroy so they can sell construction materials later and take control of the oilfields.
    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    October 04, 2012 12:24 PM
    Norman (USA) who are you referring to? After gathering ant-infested firewood, the Syrians have invited the lizard. It cannot be the other way round. Neither Syria nor any of its allies in the region has proved worthy of being in charge of itself, let alone its neighbors. They deserve what they get. Imagine being friends with Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran: what a terrorist Syria must have been, and what a nuissance to its neighbors! Now it's al qaida and new terror groups whose names are yet to be unveiled. Do you still think these people deserve sympathy?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.