August 8, 2017

Afghanistan Redux On Syrian Border?

The Pentagon confirms that US special operations forces are providing "training and support to the Lebanese Army ahead of a confrontation with the Islamic State along the Syrian border (see below).

News of the support comes after the Lebanese militia Hezbollah announced it will battle ISIS on the Syrian side during the confrontation.

Details appear below, but all this sounds eerily familiar.

Throughout the 1980s, the US aided and funded "freedom fighters"/"resistance forces" in Afghanistan known as the mujahedin in their fight for freedom against invading Soviet forces.

Allegations still exist that US support for the mujahedin was in effect assistance to Osama bin Laden, which led to the growth of Sunni terrorist group al Qaeda. The US government and a number of other parties strongly deny this allegation and maintain that the U.S. supported only the indigenous Afghan mujahideen and NOT Afghan Arabs or foreign fighters who were militant Islamists. In fact, even Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri have said much said the same thing.

Today, US special operations forces are training and supporting the Lebanese Army in their fight with ISIS along the Syrian border. HOWEVER, Iranian proxy and Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah controls the Lebanese government and dictates the operations of its armed forces.

Are we now gearing ourselves up for the Shia version of Afghanistan Redux with the Lebanese Army and Iran’s proxy Hezbollah on the Syrian border?  |  August 7, 2017

US Special Forces Train Lebanese Army Ahead Of ISIS Showdown As Hezbollah Says It will Fight Beside Syria In The Confrontation

• US special forces are providing 'training and support' to the Lebanese Army
It comes ahead of a confrontation with the Islamic State along the Syrian border
Lebanese militia Hezbollah announced that it will battle ISIS on the Syrian side
Hezbollah has been a key ally of Syrian President Assad during the conflict

By Kelly Mclaughlin

Aiding Lebanese Army

US special operations forces are aiding the Lebanese Army ahead of a confrontation with the Islamic State along the Syrian border, a Pentagon spokesman has confirmed.

News of the support comes after the Lebanese militia Hezbollah announced it will battle ISIS on the Syrian side during the confrontation.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said that special forces would provide 'training and support' for the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Aiding Lebanese Army-Hezbo

'That not only concentrates on operational type missions, but also tactical and strategic type missions,' he told The New Arab. 'We also have a presence with Lebanese special forces in all aspects of training and special operations.'

Further details about the training have not been released due to operational security reasons, though US Air Force special operations aircraft have been seen landing at the Lebanese Special Operations Forces' academia in Hamat.

A confrontation between the Lebanese Army and ISIS is expected to break out at the Syrian border in a matter of days.

The Lebanese army will attack Islamic State from the Lebanese side of the border while Hezbollah and the Syrian army will simultaneously attack it from the Syrian side, said Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon's Shi'ite group, Hezbollah.

'The Syrian front line against Daesh will be opened, and the Syrian army and Hezbollah will be there,' he said.

He said Islamic State fighters in the enclave, who hold Lebanese captives, still had a door open for negotiations and could avoid a battle.

Aiding Lebanese Army-versus ISIS

Hezbollah has been a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the six-year conflict, fighting alongside the Syrian army against rebels including hardline Sunni Islamists.

A Hezbollah offensive last month forced Nusra Front militants in an adjacent enclave on the border to depart under an evacuation deal for a rebel-held area in northwest Syria.

The Lebanese military, which has received more than $1 billion in US security assistance in the past decade, took a back seat in the operation, but has been widely expected to lead the attack against the Islamic State pocket.

Nasrallah emphasised that the assault inside Lebanon will be the army's responsibility.

The presence of the militant enclaves on its border has represented the biggest military spillover of Syria's civil war into Lebanon.

More than a million Syrians have also sought refuge in Lebanon, putting strains on the economy and services, and in his speech Nasrallah said it was time for Beirut to discuss their situation with Damascus.

Thousands of refugees travelled to rebel-held northwest Syria alongside the Nusra fighters who left the border area after Hezbollah's assault.

Aiding Lebanese Army-Nasrallah

Far from being an ally in the fight against Hezbollah, the Lebanese government headed by Saad Hariri is based on a partnership with the Shiite group, whose clout and dominance in the tiny country is on the rise.

'Lebanon is on the front lines in the fight against (the Islamic State group), al-Qaida and Hezbollah,' President Donald Trump said at the press conference in Washington, lighting up social media with comments from Lebanese who ridiculed his perceived ignorance of Lebanese politics. 

Declaring victory Friday night, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the army was perfectly capable of winning that fight but offered his support should it be needed.

'We are at the service of the Lebanese army and under its command ... if they ask for any help we will help,' he said in a televised speech.

It is this complex relationship between Lebanese governments and Hezbollah that foreigners often find so baffling.

'Both Lebanon and Hezbollah occupy a grey area: Lebanon isn't really a state, and Hezbollah isn't a terrorist group - or isn't only a terrorist group, depending on your view,' said Faysal Itani, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, explaining the misperceptions.

'So the American tendency is either to treat Hezbollah as controlling the state of Lebanon, or to see Lebanon as a sovereign entity fighting a terrorist group. Both are false.'

Original article here.


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