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How Hezbollah got involved in Syria

Throughout the first year or so of the war in Syria, Hezbollah Lebanon’s leader Hasan Nasrallah was apparently resisting repeated requests from Iranian military and security leaders, particularly from the head of Sepah Qods Qasim Suleimani, that Hezbollah should send large numbers of fighters to Syria to support the Assad regime, which seemed to be losing ground at the time.

Nasrallah presumably did not want to shoot himself in the foot and get involved in a struggle that was not really his struggle, especially in light of Hezbollah’s historical claims that the ‘arms of the resistance’ will not be used against anyone but Israel. US intelligence reports indicate that there were “strong disagreements” within Hezbollah’s leadership as some of them worried that involvement in Syria would harm the party’s reputation and “cause reactions” inside Lebanon.[1]

But everything changed when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself interfered. According to insiders, Nasrallah received a personal message from Iran’s Supreme Leader saying Tehran expects Hezbollah to “act decisively” on Syria. Within weeks Hezbollah fighters were fighting alongside the Syrian regime forces against opposition forces, especially in and around Homs and Damascus.

Of course these American intelligence reports could be intended to create a friction between the supporters of Hezbollah Lebanon and the Iranian regime. Indeed, other commentators insist that Hezbollah has always followed Iranian orders, so it is unlikely that there would have been a disagreement within the group’s leadership regarding any orders that come from Tehran.[2]

[1] e.g.


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