Hezbollah, Iran and Syria prepare for counterattack


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BEIRUT: Iran, Syria and Hezbollah have set up a joint military operations room to coordinate closely in the event of a U.S. strike on Syria, with Hezbollah mobilizing “tens of thousands” of fighters, senior political and diplomatic sources told The Daily Star Friday.

Even though the U.S. has so far succeeded in keeping the “axis of the resistance” guessing about the targets and scope of the strike, the sources said, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah have geared up for the worst-case scenarios.

While nearly every aspect of the expected U.S.-led strike remains in flux, the three players have agreed on a specific course of action if American missiles smash into Syrian territory.

Hezbollah has even called up “tens of thousands” of fighters and reservists in anticipation of the strike, according to political sources.

“Iran, Syria and Hezbollah don’t have a clear picture about what Americans have planned,” said one diplomat, who wished to remain anonymous. “But those countries too are prepared for various scenarios.”

The sources said that Iran and Hezbollah would throw their weight and military skills behind President Bashar Assad if the strike presented a serious threat to the regime or would significantly weaken the Syrian army, the regime’s backbone.

“Short of that,” one diplomat said, “Hezbollah and Iran are unlikely to be involved.”

The diplomatic sources explained that Iran and Hezbollah considered the targeting of key Syrian army posts, military airfields and strategic weapons depots – including long range missiles – a direct threat to Assad’s rule and a reason to intervene.

While Syria and Hezbollah have mobilized forces, the sources said the Iranians have begun to prepare themselves for the likelihood that they will launch
strategic missiles” in response.

“The aim of the move was to demonstrate to the United States that Iran was serious,” the diplomat said.

Diplomatic and political sources also revealed Syria too has a bank of targets to hit in response to any U.S. attacks, namely in Israel as well as U.S. military bases in neighboring countries such as Turkey and Jordan.

The alliance among Syria, Iran and Hezbollah took shape in the 1990s and despite several attempts to fracture it has so far proven to be resilient.

The alliance is frowned upon by Israel and many Arab countries, which describe it as sectarian and accuse the two countries and Hezbollah of looking to form a
Shiite crescent,” comprising Middle East countries – Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran – where the majority of people are Shiite or where there is a sizeable Shiite minority.

Iran, Syria and Hezbollah have long refuted the accusations, saying their alliance is solely meant to counter Israel and support the rights and interests of the Palestinians.

But coordination among the three key regional players has never been interrupted even before the unrest in Syria started in March 2011.

The highest-profile tripartite meeting so far took place in February 2010 when Assad, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held talks in Damascus.

Another key event came in April 2013, almost two years into the Syria war, when Nasrallah paid a visit to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Nasrallah has vowed unequivocal support for Assad in the face of a rebellion by what he dubbed “takfiri groups,” arguing that the family offered political and logistical support to his group in their struggle to liberate Lebanese territories from Israeli occupation and later on during the 2006 war.

Hezbollah fighters have supported Assad troops at many instances in the past two years, securing a triumphant victory for the Syrian Army against rebel groups in the town of Qusair, just kilometers away from the Lebanese border.

Despite domestic and international chiding for its involvement in the Syrian quagmire, Hezbollah seems unwilling to pull out and plans to fight alongside the regime and make use of its full fighting capacity in case Syria comes under attack.

Political sources said the party put on alert “tens of thousands” of fighters and reservists – part timers and full-timers – in anticipation of a U.S. strike.

The sources said ever since August 2006, when a 34-day war with Israel concluded, Hezbollah has launched a large-scale operation to take on new recruits and has organized training camps during the summer for thousands of young people in south Lebanon and the Baalbek and Hermel regions in the northern Bekaa Valley.

“Everyone in Hezbollah who has been trained to use weapons has been put on high alert,” one political source explained.
The party is ready for all eventualities

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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)
Hezbollah = Hizballah = "the party" (as used here)

Formed in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Hizballah (the “Party of God”), a Lebanon-based Shia terrorist group, advocates Shia empowerment within Lebanon

axis of resistence =
A senior Iranian envoy referred to the relationship between his country and Syria as an "axis of resistance" that Iran would not allow to be broken as Syrian President Bashar Assad vowed to fight on against rebels

Iran's Ballistic Missile Capabilities: A net assessment


Shiite Crescent
Will O-BOMB-YA say "bring it on?

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The worst case for Syria: A failed state and terrorist sanctuary

September 7, 2013 — With President Obama threatening a military strike on Syria, President Assad apparently using chemical weapons, and rebel leaders killing enemy prisoners and eating their organs, many wonder what else could possibly go wrong in Syria.

The answer is: A lot.

Without some divine-like intervention, Syria could catapult into a failed state or, even worse, a failed state that is a safe-haven for terrorists.

Since the two-year civil war in Syria started, the country has fragmented. Syrian national identity has disappeared. Citizens now side with the government or the rebels, the Alawhites, the Sunni’s or the Shiites, Aleppo residents or Damascus dwellers.

This is a magnified mirror of the current situation in Libya, where central government authority has disappeared. That country is now run by militias and warlords who use force to capture and control territory. Over the last year, militants have used force to “influence” legislators and surrounded the national assembly to make their point. Warlords currently occupy the ports, prohibiting the central government from shipping oil, the primary source of revenue for the country.

As long as Assad is in power, the overriding divide is between those who support the government and those who support the rebels. After he leaves, however, those loose alliances almost certainly will dissolve.

The government side currently includes members the Muslim Alawite minority, soldiers, the National Defense Forces, Iranian Revolutionary Guard members, and the Shiite Hezbollah militants. There are also pro-regime militias, such as Shabiha, which are allied with the government but act independently.

Without Assad, government forces are likely to devolve into their own brigades, fighting for their own interests.

Alawite militias say they will refuse to surrender even if Assad, himself a member of the sect, leaves office. The group worries that rebels, who are primarily Sunni, will try to eradicate the group if they rule Syria.
The fears appear well-founded. Sunni leaders have called Alawites “more infidel than Jews and Christians, even more infidel than many polytheists” and authorized a jihad against them. Rebel groups have targeted Alwites and executed several Alawite religious leaders.

The rebels, or opposition, are highly divided. Squabbling inside each group, between groups, and with supporters has significantly hobbled rebel efforts to overthrow Assad or to win international backing.

Despite forming a “unified” Syrian National Coalition and a Supreme Joint Military Command last November, the opposition has no single recognized leader or organizational structure. Internally, their members differ on strategy and policy, and leaders have resigned over turf battles.

Moreover, these two national organizations have little legitimacy with on-the-ground fighting forces and have demonstrated almost no ability to control the myriad of fighting forces. Forces fighting in Syria, such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA), distain the exiled intellectual political leadership headquartered in Istanbul and refuse to take orders from them.

The forces on the ground lack coordination and some are outwardly hostile to each other. The al-Qaeda affiliated al Nusra Front and the FSA are at war with each other after al Nusra killed an FSA leader.
The Free Syrian Army says it is not religiously-affiliated, whereas the Syrian Liberation Front and the Syrian Islamic Front both espouse Islamic ideology.

There are also an unknown number of independent rebel brigades that operate in the country.

The al Nusra Front, the most radical of the known groups, has recently grown in number thanks to defections from the FSA and an influx of foreign fighters. The core of the group came to Syria from Iraq and publicly pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. Al-Nusra is the best organized and best armed rebel group in Syria.

The ultimate danger of a post-Assad Syria is a chaotic failed state which provides the opportunity for al-Qaeda to establish a foothold and create a terrorist safe-haven. Al Nusra is already consolidating its position in the country, and attracting like-minded militants from across the region.

A war-weary Syria, faced with no national identity, no strong leader, no democratic institutions, a decimated infrastructure, and lack of resources is prime ground for al-Qaeda to flourish.

Read more: http://communities.washingtontimes....led-state-and-terrorist-sanctu/#ixzz2eFDLC5PA