Losses Mounting, Syria Relies Increasingly on Foreign Militias for Defense

Hezbollah Expands Offensive in Qalamoun Mountains

Facing increasing territorial losses in both the northern Idlib Province and the central Homs Province, Syria has less and less military force to bring to bear against the assorted rebel factions in the country, and is seen turning to foreign Shi’ite militias to try to hold what they have left.

Syrian officials reported today that some 7,000 foreign fighters from Iraq and Iran have arrived in the past few weeks, part of an effort to put together militias of 10,000 foreign fighters to support the defense of Damascus as well as the Mediterranean coast. The move appears to have begun with losses in Idlib back in April.

Hezbollah, of course, is the biggest foreign faction backing Syria’s military, and they too have been increasing their involvement in recent months, with a new round of offensives against the Qalamoun Mountains, which are along the border between Syria and the Lebanese border town of Arsal.

Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syria war is politically unpopular within Lebanon, but defending the area around Arsal is more palatable, with both ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra launching repeated incursions against the border town.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.