December 3, 2013

Updates On Syria [12.3]: FSA Rebels Cause Havoc In Lebanon, ISIS Declares A Blockade Against Kurdish Areas, Hezbollah Gains New Battlefield Experience

1. An excerpt from, "Fleeing Syrian rebels accused of aggravating violence in Lebanon" by Mitchell Prothero, McClatchy, December 2:
A long-feared influx of rebels fleeing Syrian battlefields for Lebanon was being blamed Monday for weekend violence that saw fighting spread throughout much of Syria’s tiny neighbor.

The ongoing battle between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and anti-Assad rebels for the rural mountainous region of Qalamoun, along the Syria-Lebanon border, has pushed scores, if not hundreds, of fighters from a variety of Syrian rebel groups into Lebanon, where security officials say their presence is destabilizing an already-volatile situation.
2. A tweet by "@BotanAlan":
ISIS announces siege on Kurdish regions of #Kobanê and #Efrîn where approx. 1.000.000 people live. Bans food, drugs & fuel from entering.
ISIS is the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shām, a transnational terrorist organization that is backed by England, the United States, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. They have committed massacres across Iraq and Syria. For many months now they have been engaged in a war with fighters from West Kurdistan in north Syria.

3. An excerpt from, "Battlefield lessons in Syria strengthen Hezbollah's fighting force" by Nicholas Blanford, The Christian Science Monitor, December 3:
Fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah have helped Bashar al-Assad's regime to stay in power and roll back some of the earlier battlefield gains made by the Syrian armed opposition.

Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, however, has had a spin-off benefit for the Iranian-backed organization: turning a new generation of young recruits into battle-hardened veterans. This experience should make them a more capable combat force in the event of another war against Hezbollah’s arch enemy – Israel.

Amid the grinding brutality of Syria’s war, analysts say Hezbollah combatants have learned valuable lessons in mounting offensive and defensive operations in urban and rural environments. They have learned how to coordinate with other forces, such as the Syrian army and loyalist paramilitaries; how to build supply lines to sustain long periods of fighting; and simply experience the rigors and chaos of combat.

“I think that for Hezbollah the benefits of the experience is going to vastly outweigh the costs in terms of competency,” says Andrew Exum, a former US Army officer in Afghanistan who recently served in as Defense Department advisor on Middle East policy.