Hezbollah may call ‘general mobilization’ against IS

As Lebanese terror group fights against jihadists in Syria, leader Nasrallah warns extremists pose existential threat to his country

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah during a speech in Beirut, November 3, 2014. (screen capture: YouTube/Imam Mahdi)
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah during a speech in Beirut, November 3, 2014. (screen capture: YouTube/Imam Mahdi)

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned Friday that the Islamic State posed an existential threat to Lebanon and said his organization may soon be required to call for a general mobilization to fight the group.

“Now is the time for everyone to enlist, anyone who can take part,” Nasrallah told senior organization commanders in a speech. “The danger that threatens us is an existential threat similar to 1982,” he added, referring to the Lebanon War and the Israeli military invasion of Lebanon.

Nasrallah warned that Lebanon now faced an invasion by IS militants, who have taken control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq. If Hezbollah hadn’t sent its forces to Syria in recent years to support president Bashar Assad’s regime in its fight against rebel groups, Nasrallah said, it would today be fighting Islamic State on Lebanese soil.

The Hezbollah chief vowed to “use all our strength and all our capabilities to cope with extremist groups.

“In the next phase we may declare general mobilization to all people,” he said.

Hezbollah fighters attack Syrian rebels in Qalamun (Screen capture: YouTube)
Hezbollah fighters attack Syrian rebels in Qalamoun (Screen capture: YouTube)

The powerful Lebanese Shiite movement, a key ally of the government in Damascus, has fought across Syria in the years since an uprising began in 2011.

In the past two weeks, Hezbollah says it has secured around a third of the Qalamoun region, territory on both the Lebanese and Syrian sides of the porous border.

The fate of Qalamoun is particularly important for Hezbollah, which has long defended its intervention in Syria alongside President Bashar Assad’s troops as key to the security of Lebanon.

In Qalamun, that argument carries more weight because of the presence of jihadists from the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front.

While Hezbollah is listed as a terrorist organization by Washington, it is now fighting against some of the same jihadist groups being targeted by US-led air strikes in Syria and Iraq.

IS fighters have in recent days consolidated the group’s control of the Iraq-Syria border after capturing an Iraqi provincial capital and a famed Syrian heritage site.

The jihadists, who now control roughly half of Syria, reinforced their self-declared transfrontier “caliphate” by seizing Syria’s Al-Tanaf crossing on the Damascus-Baghdad highway late Thursday.

The jihadist surge, which has also seen it take Anbar capital Ramadi and the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra in the past week, comes despite eight months of US-led airstrikes.

It has sparked an exodus of tens of thousands of civilians in both countries and raised fears IS will repeat at Palmyra the destruction it has already wreaked at ancient sites in Iraq’s Nimrud and Mosul.

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