Hezbollah said to mobilize troops ahead of possible showdown

With US strike on horizon, Arab media report Lebanese fighters absent from villages; joint command center with Assad formed

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Hezbollah fighters hold party flags during a parade in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon (AP/Hussein Malla/File)
Hezbollah fighters hold party flags during a parade in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon (AP/Hussein Malla/File)

Hezbollah has reportedly redeployed its forces throughout the region ahead of a possible US strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad — a longtime ally of the Lebanon- based Shiite terror group.

Members of Hezbollah have “disappeared” from villages across Lebanon, AFP reported Tuesday, citing Lebanese media and witnesses. The report noted that Hezbollah fighters in strongholds along the coast, in the Bekaa valley, near the Syrian border and in southern Beirut had left town, with many turning off their cellphones to avoid being tracked.

While security measures remain in place, checkpoints around the terror group’s nerve center in the capital are now being manned by teenagers instead of regular Hezbollah fighters, the news agency said.

Witnesses in the area around Tyre told AFP there appeared to be a general mobilization of Hezbollah members in the area. On Monday the Arabic daily Al-Akhbar, a paper considered close to both Assad’s regime and Hezbollah, said the group “called on all its officers and members to man their positions.”

The “Syrian army has mobilized units” which had not yet taken part in the civil war, Al-Akhbar reported, drawing an image of drastic changes not only by Hezbollah but also by Assad’s regime. The two have “established an operations room” with representatives from both fighting forces, it said.

Hezbollah has threatened to hit Israel in response to a possible US military action against Syria currently being debated by lawmakers in Washington. On Monday, Lebanese media reported that Hezbollah planned to launch rockets at Israel from the Syrian city of Homs, to avoid drawing Lebanon into the conflict.

A report Monday night by Israel’s Maariv news outlet suggested Hezbollah had mobilized its fighters after Iranian intelligence forces warned the group about an upcoming Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear program.

The hike in tensions come as the US and France are mulling action against Assad’s regime for the reported use of chemical weapons in an attack on August 21 that the US says killed over 1,400 people.

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