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memri
November 14, 2016 No.
6677

Hizbullah Military Parade In Syrian Town Of Al-Qusayr: Tanks, Cannon, And Machine Guns

On November 13, 2016, Hizbullah marked its annual Martyr Day by holding its first military parade in a Syrian town. The parade was held in Al-Qusayr, which Hizbullah took over in 2013 following a long and bloody battle with rebel forces, and which since then has become the main symbol of the organization's involvement in the Syria war alongside the Assad regime.[1]

Reports on the parade and photos from it were posted on Hizbullah-affiliated websites and social media. According to the reports, several hundred fighters in uniform marched in the parade, and tanks, armored vehicles, machine guns and other weapons were displayed. The Lebanese website nn-lb.com reported that the parade involved fighters from newly-formed Hizbullah brigades that are part of the Armored Division, as well as infantrymen from the organization's intervention force who are fighting in Syria and form the spearhead of Hizbullah's army.

Hashem Safi Al-Din, chairman of Hizbullah's executive committee, attended the parade and spoke at it on behalf of the organization's secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah, who is also considered to be the organization's military commander-in-chief. Safi Al-Din addressed various military and political matters related to Syria.[2]

It should be noted that Al-Qusayr is considered to be strategic for Hizbullah due to its location close to the northern Beqaa Valley, which is one of Hizbullah's strongholds in Lebanon. Reports indicate that, since it was taken from the rebels in 2013, Hizbullah has emptied the town of its residents and has turned it into a headquarters and a gathering place from which its fighters set out across Syria. Hizbullah also sees the Al-Qusayr area as an important buffer zone preventing Salafi-jihadi fighters from crossing into Lebanon.

Mazen Ibrahim, Beirut bureau chief for Al-Jazeera, speculated that the parade was intended to convey a number of messages to various elements involved in the Syria crisis, both in Lebanon and elsewhere in the region and the world.  Hizbullah, he wrote, meant to convey that it is no longer waging a gang war but was a large army fighting across international borders, a partner of the Syrian regime not only in fighting but in making decisions, and a major player that must be taken into account in any solution to the Syrian crisis.[3]

It should also be noted that the Syrian opposition website Orient News reported, citing "exclusive sources," that the parade included M113 tanks belonging to the Lebanese army, and that these tanks may have ended up in Hizbullah's possession as part of a corrupt deal between Lebanese army commanders and Hizbullah. The sources added that, if these facts are true, they will cause Lebanon to lose its foreign military aid.[4]

The following is a sampling of photos from the parade.

Photos Posted November 13, 2016 On The Hizbullah-Affiliated Website Arabipress.org     

    

 

 Photos Posted November 13, 2016 On The News Site Nn-lb.com     

 

   

 

       

Photos Published November 14, 2016 By Lebanese Newspaper Al-Diyar  

   

      

Endnotes:

 

[1] Hizbullah websites that reported on the parade stressed the significance of holding it in Al-Qusayr, due to the town's status as a military and security symbol for the organization, and also due to the fact that the Al-Qusayr area was the gateway through which Hizbullah's forces first entered Syria at the beginning of their involvement in the war. See arabipress.org, November 13, 2016.

[2] Nn-lb.com, alhadathnews.net, arabipress.org, November 13, 2016

[3] Al-Jazeera.net, November 14, 2016.

[4] Arabipress.net, November 13, 2016.