At least 11 Hezbollah fighters and five Iranians were killed in Syria as fighting intensified between the Lebanese Shiite organization and fighters of the Free Syrian army along the border over the past two days, local media sources reported on Monday.
According to Lebanese opposition daily Al-Mustaqbal, the bodies of 11 Hezbollah fighters and “a large number of wounded” were brought to a hospital in the Dahieh neighborhood of south Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold, after two days of fighting in the Damascus region near the Shiite shrine of Sayida Sakinah.
Eyewitnesses told the daily that cars with loudspeakers were requesting residents to donate blood in southern Beirut.
Hezbollah publicly supports the government of Bashar Assad in Syria, but has never admitted to sending forces to aid the regime’s military effort. Hezbollah men killed in action have been buried in secret in their villages across Lebanon over the past year.
“For a while now, Hezbollah has not hesitated to send its operatives to fight in Syria under the banner of ‘the religious duty of jihad.’ They come back as bodies, and the number of funerals in Lebanon increases day by day as the party becomes more involved in fighting for Bashar Assad. It can no longer hide its dead and wounded from Lebanese public opinion.”
Al-Mustaqbal reported that one of the Hezbollah casualties, 21-year-old Hamza Ibrahim Ghamloush, was scheduled to be buried Monday afternoon in Beirut.
Meanwhile, the Free Syrian Army at the border city of Qusayr announced the shelling of Jousya, a Syrian village which Hezbollah reportedly infiltrated and took over, Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported. The FSA also claimed that Hezbollah was shelling Qusayr from the mountainous Hermel region, within Lebanese territory.
According to the FSA communique, Iranians belonging to the Revolutionary Guard are overseeing the operation from the ground. Five Iranians and nine Hezbollah fighters were killed in an FSA ambush near Qusayr on Sunday night, Al-Mustaqbal reported.