London/Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – As the Syrian military continued to shell various areas of the country yesterday, Free Syrian Army [FSA] sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Lebanese kill-squads affiliated to Hezbollah had entered Syrian territory, specifically the al-Qasir region, close to the Lebanese border.
FSA commander of Homs, Colonel Qasim Saad al-Din, revealed that Hezbollah forces raided several villages in Al-Qasir, including Al-Safsafah, Al-Masriyah, Al-Sawadiyah, Mutribah, and Zaytah. He stressed “these forces arrested 37 Syrians, including women, and also erected roadblocks at the entry point of each of these villages.”
The FSA commander asserted that the Hezbollah fighters entered these areas accompanied by Syrian security forces, adding that there were a total of around 200 Hezbollah fighters, divided into 20 separate groups, in the al-Qasir region yesterday. He also claimed that the Hezbollah fighters had illegally entered Syria via Shiite border villages known to be loyal to the Lebanese organization.
Colonel Saad-al-Din asserted that “we have received information from the villages and from the FSA confirming that they identified them [the Hezbollah fighters] from their accents and clothes, whilst they were also accompanied by elements speaking Farsi.”
He added “so far, they have carried out arrests and raided houses…injuring several people.” He also claimed that Hezbollah forces had previously aided and supported al-Assad regime forces in Syria, saying “they were present in more than one area in the Rif Dimashq governorate, as well as the western and southern Homs governorate. They were also present in large numbers in Al-Zabadani.”
For his part, FSA spokesman Colonel Khalid al-Hammoud informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the FSA is in possession of information confirming the presence of Hezbollah elements and fighters in Syria. He stressed that “Hezbollah elements are primarily deployed in the Al-Qasir area and the surrounding villages in the Homs countryside, as well as in Al-Zabadani, Rankus, and Madaya in the Rif Dimashq governorate, as these areas are close to the Lebanese borders and they allow the Hezbollah elements to easily enter and leave the country.”
He added “there are also Iranian specialists present in the northern areas [of Syria] close to the Turkish borders who have set-up operation rooms…in order to intercept the telephone calls of activists and FSA members.”
Colonel Khalid al-Hammoud claimed that “the Hezbollah elements’ role is confined to sniper operations, whilst the Iranian specialists’ tasks include training, communication operations and uncovering activists.”