Pressure from stalwart Lebanese opponents of Hezbollah's increasing involvement in Syria has prompted the terrorist organization to send a delegation to Iran to ask it to shoulder more of the burden in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Sunday.
Mounting casualties among Hezbollah fighters in Syria has led some of the organization's Lebanese supporters to petition its leaders to scale back its involvement in the Syrian conflict, the Saudi paper reported. Saudi Arabia supports the more Sunni extremist Islamic elements fighting to topple Assad's regime, who are also directly confronting Hezbollah's Shiite fighters in Syria.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, a source with knowledge of the petitions said that the increasing numbers of Hezbollah men killed in Syria, including some senior commanders, have raised concerns among the Lebanese Shiites, prompting some of them, especially residents of Ba'albek, to visit Hezbollah Shura member Mohamed Yazbek and demand a halt on deployments of their men to Syria.
The source added that the residents stressed during the meeting that their children had fought Israel in 2006 and other wars, "in response to the call for resistance against Israel."
However, they said their men's participation in the fight against the Syrian rebels, in defense of the Syrian government, was "shameful" and that it was "unacceptable" to embroil their men in a war in which they "had no interest at all."
The source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hezbollah was going through difficulties because it could not withdraw from fighting alongside the Syrian government, especially at this time.
This has prompted leading figures within Hezbollah to hold high-level meetings to discuss the issue and agree on a delegation to be sent to Iran to explain the difficulties faced by the party in the fighting in Syria. The delegation will also be tasked with explaining to the Iranian leadership that the party is no longer able to bear the burden of supporting the Syrian government alone by sending fighters from Lebanon, and that Iran must to send more Iranian fighters than previously, the newspaper reported.
The source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the numbers of Hezbollah fighters helping the Syrian government had increased noticeably. Following the Hezbollah leader's visit to Tehran and Damascus three months ago, more than 20 units were sent to Syria from the Bekaa by Hezbollah, each battalion consisting of about 100 men.