May 3, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7454

Lebanese Journalist: Hizbullah Settling In Syria As Part Of Iranian Plan To Change Its Demography

May 3, 2018
Iran, Lebanon, Syria | Special Dispatch No. 7454

In his April 21, 2018 column in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, titled "Hizbullah Resettling in Syria," Ahmad 'Ayyash referred to the policy of transfer and forced demographic change that the Bashar Al-Assad regime has been conducting in Syria over the past several years, with the assistance of Hizbullah and its other allies. [1] According to 'Ayyash, this is actually an Iranian "settlement project," which involves expelling residents from various parts of the country and resettling these areas with Shi'ite members of Hizbullah and of other Iran-backed militias, who prevent the original residents from returning to their homes. He warned that the presence of these new settlers in Syria may not be temporary.

The following are excerpts from his column:

Hizbullah fighters in Syria (image: Al-Nahar, Lebanon, April 21, 2018)

"Hizbullah's involvement in the Syria war is not confined to military action aimed at propping up the Syrian regime. [Its goals] extend much further than that, and have to do with an Iranian settlement project whose implementation began several years ago. The aim [of this project] is changing the demography [of Syria] by settling [it with members of] Iran-backed [Shi'ite] militias from Afghanistan, Lebanon and other countries in the region.

"Naturally, the world is currently occupied with the implications of the chemical [weapons] issue, which came up again after the Assad regime used such weapons... in Douma, near Damascus. But while addressing the issue of the chemical weapons, [the world] is ignoring the ongoing plan of demographic cleansing, as part of which tens of thousands of Syrians were transferred from their homes in Ghouta to northern Syria several days ago, and thousands of others left eastern Al-Qalamun, near Damascus, [as part of a move] 'brokered by Russia'...

"[These] tens of thousands of Syrians left their ancestral homes, where their families had been living for generations, just as hundreds of thousands of [other] Syrians had previously left their homes in Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Al-Qusayr. The world is oblivious [to the fact] that Iran has been acting vigorously to fill the demographic vacuum [left by these Syrians], with Hizbullah acting as the chief executive arm of this [project]. Whoever doubts the existence of this Iranian plan can read statements made by Ali Akbar Velayati, an advisor to Supreme Leader [Khamenei], as quoted by the Iranian news agency Mehr. [He said]: 'The Islamic awakening on our resistance front begins in Tehran and extends to Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Palestine, and will soon include Yemen as well. Were it not for Iran's support, Baghdad and Damascus would have been occupied by ISIS today, and Beirut would have been occupied by Israel.'

"Several weeks ago, Al-Nahar received information that people from Al-Qusayr had appealed to the Syrian regime for permission to return to their properties in that town, and had received permission to do so. But when they reached the town, they found themselves facing Hizbullah militiamen, who are still militarily occupying the town, and who ordered them back, saying: 'Whoever gave you permission [to return is welcome] to give you back your property.' According to the information [we received], Hizbullah is investing in developing thousands of acres in this area, known for its fertile fields, and will directly reap the profits.

"One of the most disturbing aspects of the Iranian plan in Syria was reported by our colleague, [Lebanese journalist] Randa Taqi Al-Din, in the daily Al-Hayat. She cited French sources, who assessed that Hizbullah will transform from the 'Lebanese Hizbullah' into the 'Syrian Hizbullah,' because its members are currently settling in Syria along with the Iranians.[2] 

"On May 6, thousands of these [Hizbullah] 'settlers' will be bussed to voting booths in Lebanon, and especially in the Baalbek-Hermel governorate, [to vote in Lebanon's parliamentary elections]. Then they will return to their 'properties,' to continue carrying out their 'duty of jihad.'"  


[2] Randa Taqi Al-Din's report stated: "Some circles assess that Hizbullah will split into Hizbullah Lebanon and Hizbullah Syria, because Hizbullah members are settling in Syria along with the Iranians. The families of Hizbullah fighters who were killed have been compensated with homes in Homs and other areas." Al-Hayat (Dubai), April 20, 2018. 

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