Monday, March 3, 2014

Bomb attacks by Sunni extremists in Lebanon have seen an increase in volunteers for the Shia militia that supports President Assad

    Monday, March 03, 2014   No comments

Hizbollah Supporters
Hizbollah, the militant Lebanese Shia group, is seeing a surge in recruitment as sectarian conflict spreads from the Syrian civil war, members of the group have told the Telegraph.
A spate of car bomb attacks against Shia towns and villages in Lebanon has caused a spike in the number of young men volunteering to fight for the group in Syria as the minority sect increasingly sees its own survival as tied to that of President Bashar al-Assad.
"All the men from this area are getting guns and asking to fight in Syria, whether they are already members of Hizbollah or not," said one supporter of the militia, who asked not to be named. "We are in a critical situation and we have to fight for the sake of the Shia."
He spoke sitting in a cafe in Hermel, a town of mainly Shia inhabitants in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa valley, that has long been a bastion for the secretive paramilitary group.
Once a sleepy country haunt, Hermal today has the feel of a town at war.

When the Telegraph met him again last week, all criticisms of Hizbollah were bygones.
Dissenters, he said, no longer had the privilege to question and criticise.
Now the Shia needed Hizbollah.
He spoke sitting at a table in an open air restaurant, beside the Orontos river, which, just a few miles down stream flows across the border into Syria. The tranquil seen was interrupted by shouting from the nearby highway and the air became acrid with smoke.
A group of youths had set fire to tyres, blocking the road as a protest because they wanted Hizbollah, and not the Lebanese national army to man the main checkpoint to enter the town. In times of peace, Hermel's Shia residents were happy to abide by the rules of the Lebanese national government, but, when feeling endangered they immediately reverted to militia they trust to protect them.
"The war is here now. It is across the borders and in out areas. We have to protect ourselves," the teacher said. "Believe me, now I would have no hesitation in sending even my own children to fight in Syria."


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