The recent jihadist offensive in southern Aleppo may have been a surprise for the government forces, but Hezbollah’s absence during the battle was far more perplexing.
Did Hezbollah leave Syria?
No. Furthermore, per a Syrian Arab Army (SAA) source in Damascus, Hezbollah deployed almost all of their forces to the Greater Damascus area; specifically, the East Ghouta and Qalamoun Mountains.
Hezbollah has a large presence in the East Ghouta region of rural Damascus, but they are not leading the current offensive, which is something they are not accustomed to in this war.
Meanwhile, in the Qalamoun Mountains, Hezbollah seems to be taking a more active role in the battle taking place on the Lebanese-Syrian border.
This past week, Hezbollah’s media wing “Al-Manar” reported that their forces carried out several attacks against Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group) in the Jaroud ‘Arsal area of east Lebanon.
In addition to their presence in Jaroud ‘Arsal, Hezbollah was sighted on the other side of the Qalamoun Mountains, carrying out attacks against Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) at Jaroud Jarajeer, Jaroud Qarah, and Jaroud Faleeta.
Last June, Hezbollah launched an imperative offensive in the Qalamoun Mountains that resulted in the expulsion of the jihadist rebels from Rankous, Faleeta, and several mountaintops.
Does this mean Hezbollah is preparing for another offensive in the Qalamoun Mountains? It is unknown at the moment.
Hezbollah’s movements in Syria are very difficult to track because they do not correspond with the media and they rarely collaborate with the Syrian Army.
Should Hezbollah launch the third phase of their Qalamoun offensive; this could spell trouble for Jabhat Al-Nusra because they are already confined to a small area in Jaroud Qarah.