WASHINGTON — With President Barack Obama embroiled in a series of demoralizing scandals, the Syrian civil war is alive and well in the Middle East region. Hezbollah had only hinted at its potential participation in the war, but now it is known as an active participant.
In fighting along the Lebanon-Syria border, at least 30 Hezbollah fighters and about 20 Syrian solders and militiamen who are loyal to the dictatorial President Bashar al-Assad were killed. Some other news outlets put the numbers at around 70, but Reuters said it is about 50 dead Assad loyalists in total.
The border town of Qusair has been used by the rebels as a supply hub for the provincial capital city of Homs. The Assad regime is trying to take the city back and sever the rebels’ supply lines. According to news reports, it seems they were repulsed.
Iran is a known backer of Hezbollah, which has been a terrorist threat to Israel and the West. Iran has openly declared its support for the Syrian regime under Assad, while the West and other parts of the Middle East have supported the rebel movement. However, the West is wary of the rebels, which have strong al-Qaeda elements among them.
Iran has lost at least one military commander in these skirmishes along the border and engaged in hostage negotiations within the past year after several of its nationals were taken prisoner.
Russia also supports Assad and has called for neutral negotiations that will not call for Assad’s ouster, but that has been rebuffed by the rebels and the West. Turkey has helped smuggle weapons across the border and whose border acts as a safe haven of sorts for the rebels.
Israel, on the other hand, has intervened in Syria to a point after being attacked by elements of the Syrian rebels. Israel, upset with Obama’s flip-flopping over a “red line”, destroyed a Syrian military facility. Jordan is also tense over the situation, increasing its border security and closing a prominent border crossing.
Iraq, which is suffering serious internal strife, is sitting out the conflict. However, a branch of al-Qaeda has merged with its Syrian branch al-Nusri Front in the civil war.