July 10, 2013 | Quote

Car Bomb in Hezbollah Stronghold a Sign of Syrian Spillover

The devastating car bomb attack in Hezbollah’s Beirut stronghold on the eve of Ramadan on Tuesday may symbolize the movement’s greater vulnerability to attacks by opposing ideological forces in Lebanon and Syria.

In recent years, Hezbollah seemed to be on guard mostly against Israeli attacks or espionage, but now the growing power of Sunni Islamist forces in the region and the ongoing civil war next door, in which it is deeply involved, increasingly challenge Hezbollah’s dominance of its home turf.

The spread of the Syrian sectarian conflict into Lebanon seems to be growing by the week, and the attack may have been perpetrated by Sunni Islamist rebel forces based in Syria or possibly by local Sunni jihadist forces sympathetic to Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir, who is on the run after facing off against the army in Sidon.

A unit of the Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the attack on its Facebook page Tuesday, claiming it was a response for the onslaught in Homs and the participation there of Hezbollah fighters. The claim could not be verified.

Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Post that he is not sure if the blast is related to the Assir situation, but that it is more likely “a result of Hezbollah’s involvement in Homs, so it is probably linked to the Syrian situation.”

Badran said that sources in Beirut told him that two weeks ago, before the Assir incident, there was another car bomb on its way that was intercepted in the Mar Mikhael area. Hence, Hezbollah’s idea that its involvement in Syria “could be cordoned off and kept in Syria – as per Nasrallah’s speech – was always fanciful.”

He added that the more these kinds of bombings are able to slip through and hit Hezbollah areas, the higher it will raise the cost of the organization’s role in the Syrian conflict.

Read the full article here.


Hezbollah Lebanon Syria