The Hezbollah militia has evolved into a virtual arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, providing the connective tissue for the growing network of the Iranian-backed militias in the region, said the New York Times in an article published on Sunday.
According to the New York Times, Hezbollah “has rapidly expanded its realm of operations. It has sent legions of fighters to Syria” to prop up the Assad regime in the war it has declared on the Syrian people since the revolution broke out in 2011.
Hezbollah is playing a major role in the six-year war against the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, an ally the regime in Tehran, who “rely on it to pursue their goals.”
In Syria, the Iranian-backed militias have played a major role in propping up Bashar al-Assad, an important Iranian ally, the article said. It added that these militias are increasingly collaborating across borders of the countries of the region.
The article, which relied on months of interviews with officials, fighters, commanders and analysts from nine countries, and with members of Hezbollah itself, brought to light an organization with new power and reach that Iranian leaders increasingly rely on it to pursue their goals.
“In the battle for Aleppo last year — a turning point in the Syrian war — Iranian-supported militants hailed from so many countries their diversity amazed even those involved.”
The article went on: “In an interview, Sheikh Naim Qassem, Hezbollah’s deputy secretary general, proudly acknowledged his organization’s efforts to pass its rich militant experience to other Iranian-aligned forces.”
Phillip Smyth, a University of Maryland researcher who studies militant groups, said more than 10,000 Iraqi fighters were in Syria during the battle for Aleppo last year, in addition to thousands from other countries.
Officers from Iran coordinated the ground forces with the Assad regime forces and the Russian air force while Hezbollah provided Arabic-speaking field commanders, the article added. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Asharq Al-Awsat)