Monday, July 31, 2017

Hezbollah takes journalists in Lebanon on a tour to prove Trump wrong

    Monday, July 31, 2017   No comments

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On Saturday, Hezbollah took a party of journalists on a tour that helped explain, trumpeting the results of the militia’s recent fight against Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate in barren mountains near the northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal.

The arduous trek into the rocky terrain underscored the sway the Iran-backed Hezbollah exerts in Lebanon, where it remains the most effective and best-armed military force and retains the ability to strike at will almost anywhere in the country.

It also illuminated the complexity of the political and military landscape in Lebanon — a U.S. ally, whose government includes Hezbollah, which is in turn branded a terrorist organization by Washington. Whether the Trump administration can navigate the pitfalls of this complexity may determine if this tiny, relatively calm country can continue to escape the turmoil raging elsewhere in the Middle East.

Trump’s comment was made alongside Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who was on a visit to the United States to seek U.S. support. “Lebanon is on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah,” Trump said, without apparently realizing that Hariri struck an alliance with Hezbollah late last year to secure his appointment as prime minister.

The comment coincided with the conclusion of a two-week offensive by Hezbollah in the Arsal area that drove out scores of al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters belonging to the group known as Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as well as several hundred former Free Syrian Army rebels — whose allies until recently had received support from the United States.

Hezbollah officials said they took journalists on the tour to demonstrate that Hezbollah, not the United States, is the one doing most of the fighting against terrorism.

“The current American president is ignorant of the region,” said Hezbollah spokesman Mohammed Afif, speaking to reporters in a cave until recently occupied by Nusra. “We are the force that fights terrorism while the United States continues to support terrorism in many forms.”

Guided by a vanguard of Hezbollah officials in black-windowed armored vehicles, a convoy comprising over 40 journalists’ four-wheel-drive vehicles set out Saturday from the nearby Bekaa Valley and trundled slowly up a rocky mountain into the area where the battles took place... source
  

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Ed Isr

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