Israel claims Syrian militia assisting Hezbollah

Israel Defense Forces Arabic spokesperson Avichay Adraee claimed on Thursday that the Iraqi Shi’ite militia Liwa al-Imam al-Hussein has traveled to Lebanon to assist Hezbollah in fighting Israel. If true, that adds to the mounting evidence of foreign fighters traveling to Lebanon in an attempt to combat Israel.

“After a series of failures suffered by Hezbollah in achieving success against Israel in recent weeks, the Iranian ‘Imam Hussein Brigade’ militia, led by the so-called Dhu al-Fiqar, arrived in southern Lebanon, which was originally established in Syria to provide assistance to the Iranian axis in recent years,” Adraee said.

Moreover, Adraee added that Liwa al-Imam al-Hussein “entered into a confrontation with the IDF on the Lebanese border in recent weeks, and is participating in offensive attacks on Israeli sovereignty.”

Liwa al-Imam al-Hussein is reportedly also active in the Damascus region and is considered to be a Syrian branch of Lebanese Hezbollah. During the Syrian civil war, its primary objective was to allegedly safeguard the Sayyida Zainab shrine, and it has notably been involved in the East Ghouta operation. Liwa Assad Allah al-Ghalib and other Iraqi Shi’a militias have collaborated with this brigade and the group aligns itself with influential Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s beliefs.

In September, Israeli intelligence reportedly warned that fighters of Liwa al-Imam al-Hussein were actively working to attack the Jewish state and were involved in smuggling Iranian-made weapons into Syria, which included drones, surface-to-surface missiles, and surface-to-air missiles. 

Consequently, the mounting evidence of foreign fighters entering Lebanon is noteworthy. On Oct. 22, Islamic Jihad published a statement acknowledging that two members of its Syrian branch were killed in southern Lebanon fighting Israel.

Iran-backed militias are threatening to expand the conflict beyond Israel’s borders. Ansar Allah, the Iranian ally also known as the Houthis, have launched at least three barrages of missiles and drones towards Israel from Yemen over the past several weeks. And a host of Iran-backed Syrian and Iraqi militias have targeted U.S. bases in dozens of attacks in Iraq and Syria, primarily with rockets and drones, in an effort to drag the U.S. into the fight.

The Iran-backed militias serve as a strategic reserve for Iran in its war against Israel. These militias, most of which are battle hardened by decades of fighting, can reinforce Hezbollah and other Palestinian groups in Lebanon and Syria with tens of thousands of fighters if they are committed to the fight.

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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