Hezbollah fighters in Syria said that the terror organization is receiving long-range missiles, laser-guided rockets and other heavy weapons directly from Russia with no caveats or restrictions – and indicated that Hezbollah is free to use the arms against Israel.
The Daily Beast reported on Monday that according to Lebanese Hezbollah field commanders with troops fighting in the Syrian conflict, the weapons were given with “no strings attached.”
A Hezbollah recruiter and trainer identified by the name “Assir” further specified that the lack of restrictions included Israel. “When it comes to Israel, Hezbollah doesn’t take directions from anyone,” he told the online magazine.
However, the report acknowledged that Assir’s position within the organization may not be senior enough to know of any secret agreements between Hezbollah and Russia.
Even if a regional conflict did break out with Israel, Hezbollah claims it wouldn’t need Russian aid to defend itself. According to the report, Hezbollah officials say they are “fully prepared to withstand an invasion on the southern border” with Israel, using Iranian weapons.
The commanders also said that there is complete coordination between the Assad regime, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia, and noted that there is a “direct interdependence” between the military efforts of Hezbollah and Russia.
“We are strategic allies in the Middle East right now – the Russians are our allies and give us weapons,” said of the Hezbollah officers, identified as “Commander Bakr”, who leads five units in Syria comprising about 200 troops.
He added that Russian intervention in the Syrian war has greatly assisted Hezbollah’s efforts, and that in turn, Hezbollah helps Russia by providing intelligence and target selection for their airstrikes against Syrian rebels.
Hezbollah, which defends the Assad regime in the ongoing Syrian civil war, is recognized as a terror organization by both the US and the European Union. Russia, however, has refused to label Hezbollah as a terror group.
In recent years, Israel, which is also active in the Syrian conflict, has attacked arms depots and weapons convoys in Syria belonging to Hezbollah or designated for the terrorist group, saying that it will not allow heavy advanced weapons to reach Hezbollah. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin carefully coordinate their military movements in Syria to ensure that the two countries do not come into conflict.