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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid