The Syrian rebels’ top military commander says more than 12,000 Lebanese Hezbollah militants have infiltrated Syria and are fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Gen. Salim Idris, chief of staff of the Free Syrian Army’s Supreme Military Council, made the claim in a letter to members of the U.N. Security Council, urging them to help a besieged border town under attack by Assad forces and their Hezbollah allies.
“We are appealing to you to act immediately to put a stop to this egregious attack on Qusair,” Gen. Idris wrote, referring to the town. “We are also requesting that you condemn in the strongest language possible the violation by Hezbollah forces of Syrian territory in total disregard of international law.”
Gen. Idris said Syrian rebel forces, so far, have not crossed into Lebanon to confront the flow of Hezbollah fighters.
He said the U.N. must hold Lebanon’s government responsible for securing its borders and preventing the infiltration of Hezbollah fighters into Syria. He said a U.N. force must also join the Lebanese army patrols along the border with Syria to help monitor the situation.
“It would be hard to accept that more than 12,000 Hezbollah fighters were able to infiltrate the border without being spotted and deterred by Lebanese army units,” the rebel leader said.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has confirmed that his fighters are aiding Mr. Assad’s forces.
Meanwhile, a former Obama administration official said that, while the administration is still undecided on the level of its support for the rebels, Iran and Hezbollah are fully committed to winning the war for the Assad regime.
“The [Obama] administration is not, at present, committed to a rebel military victory,” said Frederic Hof, the State Department’s former lead diplomat on Syria who left the administration in September. “Iran, Hezbollah and arguably Russia are committed to a regime victory. We need to ask ourselves, I think, whether a victory in Syria by those three is acceptable to us, or whether it would have destabilizing consequences far transcending Syria.”
“This is a war that Iran and Hezbollah have decided not to lose. We are not yet seeing this level of resolve on the part of the [Obama] administration,” Mr. Hof said Wednesday at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Syrian activists say a massacre is imminent in Qusair, near the border with Lebanon.
Doctors in Qusair have run out of critical supplies of oxygen, “exacerbating an already hopeless humanitarian situation and almost ensuring that those who are injured by the regime and need surgery will not survive,” the London-based Syrian Network for Human Rights said. “Given the regime’s unrelenting siege on the city, it is not clear how or if citizens will be able to get oxygen inside.”
The Assad regime wants to control Qusair in order to secure a highway that links the capital, Damascus. The town is considered a key stronghold for the success of the rebels and the regime’s forces as it sits on a vital supply route.