While there has been considerable discussion in the United States about jihadis who may be fighting in Syria against the Assad regime, less attention has been paid to the presence of Hezbollah fighters acting on the side of that regime.
Asharq Alawsat, the London Arabic-language newspaper, reports on this issue today in a story entitled “FSA: Hezbollah fighters in Syria, carrying out raids.” According to the FSA, the Free Syrian Army, there are also Iranian elements present. What are they doing? According to the newspaper’s sources, the Iranian are providing technical advice and assistance: “there are also Iranian specialists present in the northern areas [of Syria] close to the Turkish borders who have set-up operation rooms…in order to intercept the telephone calls of activists and FSA members…the Iranian specialists’ tasks include training, communication operations and uncovering activists.” But the Hezbollah men are operational: they are snipers.
I have had the same report from official sources in the region, and believe it. Given the importance of Syria to Iran and Hezbollah, it is not surprising that they are willing to fight to preserve the Assad regime. As we debate whether to offer non-lethal and lethal aid to the opposition, the intervention of Iran and Hezbollah on the Assad side and against the people of Syria ought to weigh heavily. A failure to offer adequate assistance is tantamount to saying that a victory for Iran and Hezbollah in Syria is acceptable to us, and a lesson to dictators everywhere to keep on killing. That would be a disastrous policy for the United States to adopt.