Lebanese Hezbollah Making Preparations to Target US Troops in Syria

Lebanese Hezbollah’s “Golan Unit” is conducting military exercises in preparation to attack American troops operating in Syria, two U.S. intelligence officials confirmed to FDD’s Long War Journal. The training involved tanks and unspecified weapons at a base in Dumeir City, 45 kilometers northeast of Damascus.

The report, originally published by Al-Hadath, highlighted the increasing danger Iran-backed proxies pose to American forces operating in Syria.

The “Golan Unit” is headed by Musa Ali Daqduq, a US-sanctioned Hezbollah military commander who was a significant figure in forming Iran-backed Shia terror organizations responsible for the murder of American soldiers in Iraq.

According to Treasury: “In approximately 2005, Iran asked Hezbollah to form a group to train Iraqis to fight Coalition Forces in Iraq. In response, Hassan Nasrallah established a covert Hezbollah unit to train and advise Iraqi militants in Jaish al Mahdi (JAM) [or Mahdi Army] and JAM Special Groups, now known as Asaib Ahl al Haq [League of the Righteous],” a Mahdi Army faction which is a U.S. listed Foreign Terrorist Organization. The group has emerged as one of the most powerful Shia terror organizations in Iraq today.

Daqduq also helped establish other Iraqi Shia terror groups such as the Hezbollah Brigades, also a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, and the Sheibani Network, which was listed by the U.S. government as a threat to Iraqi security in 2008.

In 2007, Daqduq was captured by the U.S. military. After 11 months, he was transferred to Iraqi custody and released in Nov. 2012 after being acquitted of terrorism charges. Following his release in 2012, the U.S. added Daqduq to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Daqduq soon returned to Lebanon and was placed in charge of training Hezbollah’s special forces.

In 2019, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) identified Daqduq as the commander of the Golan Unit, a Hezbollah military infrastructure operating in southern Syria. The goal of the network is to create a second front against Israel under the auspices of the Syrian regime, to turn it into an Iran-backed stronghold similar to southern Lebanon.

Initially, Hezbollah’s presence in southern Syria became a strategic problem for Israel. However, it’s clear American forces are also a target for the Iran-backed terror group. Numerous Shia groups, many thought to be fronts for Iran-backed Iraqi and Shia militias as well as Lebanese Hezbollah, have launched attacks against U.S. forces based in eastern Syria that are battling the Islamic State. These militias have launched multiple rocket, mortar, and drone attacks on U.S. bases at Al Tanf, Mission Support Site Conoco, and the Green Village over the past several years. Now, they appear to have their sights set on American troops again.

Joe Truzman is a research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian militant groups and Hezbollah. Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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