Iran continues to dispatch commanders and fighters from the Shiite Foreign Legion stationed in Syria to southern Lebanon.1 Recently, Hamza Abu Abbas, “the Syrian,” toured the border with Israel. Abu Abbas is the commander of the Iraqi “Al-Bakr Brigade” stationed in Syria as part of the Shiite Foreign Legion. During his visit, he declared on the group’s Facebook page, “Let Israel know that we are present on its borders and the day will come when we will break them.”2
It was reported that Abu Abbas’ visit was part of a series of visits by commanders from the Iraqi Shi’ite militias, with future visits planned for commanders coming from the Yemeni Houthi militia, as well as from the Pakistani Fatimid and Afghani Abul Fadl al-Abbas contingents stationed in Syria.4
In southern Lebanon, there are already Iraqi and Afghani fighters from the Saraya al-Salaam organization belonging to Muqtada al-Sadr’s organization in Iraq, who came from Syria via Hizbullah. They set up a guard post and sent armed men to encircle the area of Arqoub, the eastern region of southern Lebanon.5
Qais al-Khazali, the commander of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, arrived in southern Lebanon in early December and toured the border with Israel accompanied by Hizbullah members.6 He expressed his “total readiness with Hizbullah to stand together with the Lebanese people and the Palestinian cause against Israeli occupation.”7
In a video, al-Khazali declared,
I am at the Fatima Gate in Kafr Kila, at the border that divides south Lebanon from occupied Palestine. I’m here with my brothers from Hizbullah, the Islamic resistance. We announce our full readiness to stand as one with the Lebanese people, with the Palestinian cause, in the face of the unjust Israeli occupation, [an occupation] that is anti-Islam, anti-Arab, and anti-humanity, in the decisive Arab Muslim cause. And, inshallah, all goodness and blessings to the mujahideen all over the world. And blessings and goodness to the Islamic resistance, which is ready to heed the call of Islam to pave the way to the State of Allah’s Justice, the State of the Possessor of Time [the Mehdi], peace and prayers be upon him.8
It should be noted that at the same time, the Syrian army completed the takeover of rebel forces in the Mazra’at Beit Jinn area, adjacent to the Syrian Hermon, only thanks to massive support provided by Hizbullah. By doing so, Hizbullah will be able to establish a stake in the Syrian Golan Heights and under the auspices of the Syrian army in the area closest to Israel in the Golan Heights.
Iran does not shy away from the Israeli warnings that Israel will not allow this establishment of Hizbullah and Shiite militias operating under the auspices of Tehran. In practice, it ignores these warnings and prepares the ground for increasing its influence near the Golan Heights and southern Lebanon.
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4 Janoubia, December 27, 2017
5 Al Joumhouria, Lebanon
6 Shimon Shapira, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, December 11, 2017