Hezbollah to Send Hundreds of Terrorists to Iraq

Lebanese Shia terrorist group to send at least 800 elite fighters to battle ISIS in northern Iraq, according to pan-Arab paper.

Ari Soffer,

Hezbollah parade in Lebanon (file)
Hezbollah parade in Lebanon (file)

The Lebanese Shia terrorist group Hezbollah is preparing to send hundreds of its men to fight ISIS in Iraq, further expanding the Iranian proxy's footprint in the turbulent region.

According to the London-based pan-Arab paper al-Arabi al-Jadeed, the Shia Islamist group is to send at least 800 fighters to bolster anti-ISIS forces as they prepare for a long-awaited offensive against the "Islamic State" stronghold of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city after Baghdad.

Hezbollah has already sustained significant casualties fighting alongside regime troops and other pro-regime militias in Syria, against both ISIS and other rebels. If true, such a major deployment in Iraq will further stretch its capacity at a time when Hezbollah is also struggling financially.

It will also further raise tensions within Lebanon itself, where opposition members have accused Hezbollah of dragging the country into the Syrian civil war, and whose Sunni Muslim community has long accused the powerful terrorist group of waging a war against Sunnis on Iran's behalf.

In the past, Sunni Islamists linked to both Al Qaeda and ISIS have reacted to Hezbollah's involvement in Syria with waves of suicide bombings, car bombings and other attacks.

According to the report, the 800-strong Hezbollah force will be made up of elite fighters who have received extensive training in terrain similar to that of northern Iraq, where Mosul is located.

The Iraqi army, backed by Iranian-sponsored Shia Islamist militias and some Sunni tribesmen, are currently battling for the city of Tikrit, a key ISIS stronghold and hometown of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The Tikrit campaign is being seen as a test - as well as a potential springboard - for an eventual offensive on Mosul, but anti-ISIS forces are making slow progress against just a few hundred Sunni jihadis, raising questions about the viability of a mission to take the far larger and better-defended Mosul.