The questions of the Syrian Civil War spilling over into its neighbors have long since been answered, but the situation in Lebanon looks to be escalating rapidly, with a pair of missiles, fired from Syrian rebel positions, pounding the outskirts of the capital city of Beirut today.
The attacks only wounded four in a residential area, but point to the rebels’ pledges of hitting Lebanon as retaliation for Hezbollah’s involvement in their war. Rebels had been saying that they were planning attacks on Lebanon for “several weeks,” and officials said the strike today was a “warning” to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to withdraw.
That’s unlikely, of course, and earlier this weekend Nasrallah declared the Syrian War “our battle,” pledging a “completely new phase” of support in the form of sending troops into neighboring Syria.
The full extent of Hezbollah’s role in Syria is much debated. Fighters are known to have taken part in the efforts to oust rebels from the town of Qusayr, near the Lebanese borders.
Yet at times the estimates have ranged into the absurd, as Brookings Institute fellow Salman Shaikh declared this weekend that Hezbollah already had 5,000 troops in Syria and was preparing to send another 5,000. Though Hezbollah’s size is widely debated, most analysts estimate the group to have only about 1,000 full-time fighters in total, and a large number of reservists who are only really called up during the occasional Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon.