The Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah has arrested 175 of its own fighters after they refused to take part in battles in the Syrian city of Zabadani, close to the border with Lebanon, Israel Radio said Saturday, quoting opposition sources in Syria.
The radio also cited a report in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, which claimed that Hezbollah fighters dispatched to Syria to shore up the regime there have begun to show reluctance to confront the rebel groups seeking to overthrow President Bashar Assad. According to the report, the hesitation began after 120 Hezbollah fighters were killed in confrontations with opposition groups and another 200 were wounded.
Like the Syrian regime, Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy in the region, receiving funds and arms from the Islamic Republic. The group has dispatched thousands of fighters to support the embattled Assad, although reports have repeatedly emerged that the organization has struggled to defeat the opposition forces.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saturday that the nuclear agreement signed earlier this week with world powers would not impact on its alliances in the region, including the regime in Syria.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not give up support of its friends in the region — the oppressed people of Palestine, of Yemen, the Syrian and Iraqi governments, the oppressed people of Bahrain and sincere resistance fighters in Lebanon and Palestine,” he said.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Defense Ministry came under fire Friday after it announced that British pilots have taken part in US and Canadian air strikes against Islamic State jihadists in Syria, despite parliament voting in 2013 against military action.
British Prime Minister David Cameron knew British military pilots were taking part in the bombing raids, his spokeswoman said.
Some lawmakers have called for ministers to explain the situation in parliament.
“The UK is not conducting air strikes in Syria,” the Ministry of Defense said. “But we have a long-standing embed program with allies, where small numbers of UK personnel act under the command of host nations.
“That has been the case in Syria, although there are currently no pilots operating in this region,” it said, adding that the number of pilots involved was fewer than 10.