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Hezbollah Paying A Price For Entering the Syrian Civil War?

Hezbollah Paying A Price For Entering the Syrian Civil War?

Tony Badran
9th July 2013 - FDD Policy Brief

A Nissan SUV packed with 35 Kgs of explosives blew up today in the Hezbollah-controlled Bir al-Abed neighborhood in Beirut's southern suburbs, reportedly causing 37 injuries. The bombing is believed to have targeted Hezbollah for its involvement in the Syrian war, especially its direct role in the assault on rebel-held areas in Homs.

Previous attacks against Hezbollah in Lebanon have been in the northern Bekaa region, near the border with Syria. Aside from one mysterious Grad rocket attack on the Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut in May, today's explosion was the first successful bombing to target Hezbollah in Beirut. The location is significant; it is where Hezbollah's security apparatus is heaviest.

Given Hezbollah's commitment to fighting in Syria, it would not be surprising to see more attacks of this nature. According to informed sources in Lebanon, a car bomb was intercepted last week in the Mar Mikhael neighborhood, at the entrance to the southern suburbs.

It is still unclear who is responsible for today's attack. There have been scattered threats by some of the Syrian rebels that they plan to take the fight to Hezbollah in Lebanon should it not withdraw from Syria, where it has been fighting alongside Assad's forces. For now, the Free Syrian Army has denied responsibility for today's attack.

No matter who carried out the attack, the perpetrators are sending a message to Hezbollah that there will be a price to pay for the group's continued involvement in Syria. Without question, the purpose of such bombings is to raise the cost domestically for Hezbollah. There have already been reports of disgruntled Shia families who are angered over the Hezbollah casualties in Syria. Should attacks continue to target Shia neighborhoods in Lebanon, the discontent over Hezbollah's involvement in the Syria war will likely only build.

Tony Badran is a senior fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Tags

arab-spring, hezbollah, lebanon, state-sponsored-terrorism, syria