Hizbollah pummelled in Syria



Hizbollah is on the back foot and, in an attempt to cover up its failure to prop up the failing Assad regime in Syria, it has embarked on a PR offensive to boost its political fortunes back home in Lebanon.

For the first time ever, the terror group recently took Western journalists to what it claims are the front lines of its battle in the Qalamoun mountains, near the Lebanon-Syria border. In addition, it has publicly boasted of its tunnels and rockets targeting Israel.

What has spurred this media campaign is the series of retreats by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad on all fronts in Syria.

While the capture last week of the city of Palmyra by Islamic State received the most media attention, the defeat of government troops in the northern city of Idlib, this time by a coalition of more moderate rebel groups, was perhaps even more striking. The rebels were well supplied with American anti-tank missiles, supplied by Saudi Arabia and Qatar through Turkey (these three regional rivals have now begun to co-operate seriously) and have largely cut off the regime from the north.

Assad and Hizbollah, together with their Iranian allies, have lost all the border crossings to Iraq, and the roads leading from Damascus to the regime's coastal enclave are under threat.

The situation has forced Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to make three speeches in recent weeks in an effort to cover up his failing campaign in Syria.

In his addresses, Nasrallah not only threatened Israel but also the Lebanese government, saying that if they did not join the battle against IS, "the people will assume their responsibilities if the state fails to act."

This was not far from threatening a new civil war but the reality is that Hizbollah is now fighting on many fronts in Syria and taking hundreds of casualties, as well as sending advisers to Shia militias fighting in Iraq and Yemen.

Hizbollah remains one of the strongest fighting forces in the region with over 100,000 missiles pointed at Israel, but at a time of strategic disadvantage, Nasrallah can do little but put on a show of bravado.

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