A Syrian human rights monitoring group reported on Thursday that the Hezbollah terror group’s leadership has refused to accede to a Russian request that its forces vacate a number of locations in southwest Syria near the Lebanese border.
Moscow, which has served as Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chief patron in the war-ravaged country, reportedly demanded that the terror group withdraw from the southern and western suburbs in the Homs locality and the Lebanese vicinity as part of a wider effort to return Russian troops back to certain positions in the area away from Hezbollah. Despite the refusal, no dispute or fraying of relations were detailed in the report. The rights group said that Hezbollah is sporadically “renewing its ranks” in military posts straddling the Syrian-Lebanese border, serving as proof that it has no intention to evacuate the area.
One of the locations in which the Shi’ite terror group plans to maintain its presence is the western Syrian city of Al-Qusayr, 35 kilometers south of Homs. Last month, a Hezbollah airfield in the area was bombed in a strike that was widely attributed to the Israel Air Force. In May, Arab news outlets, including the Syrian rights organization, reported that Russian forces had withdrawn from the Homs vicinity and would soon be replaced by Assad’s army. No indication, however, was mentioned in the report that the Russian withdrawal has yet been implemented. The Kremlin is currently in the midst of a tense relationship with Iran and its proxy Hezbollah over their presence in Syria, a reality which Israel has repeatedly raised concerns over and stated that it will employ all means necessary to flush them out of the country. A feud erupted shortly after between Russia and Iran and Hezbollah, with the two complaining that the declared new position was not coordinated with them first.