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Hezbollah on alert in Lebanon

The Shiite party reportedly fears a terrorist backlash in Lebanon.

Hezbollah march. (AFP/Anwar Amro)

BEIRUT – Hezbollah has tightened security measures in Shiite-populated areas of Lebanon as the party ramps up its military presence in Syria while the Shiite holy day of Ashura nears, according to recent reports.

 

The pro-Damascus daily As-Safir on Tuesday reported on Hezbollah’s heightened alert, saying it came amid growing fears of terrorist attacks in Lebanon following Russia’s military intervention in Syria backed by a coalition that includes the Lebanese Shiite party.

 

“Hezbollah has tightened precautionary security procedures in certain Lebanese areas, the foremost of which is Dahiyeh,” the Lebanese daily said.

 

It added that the new security measures had come at the same time as the party’s “widest ever participation in the Syrian war.”

 

Pro-Hezbollah media outlets have all touted the party’s role in the “4+1 coalition” that also includes Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

 

Al-Akhbar reported that Hezbollah troops have been deploying to northwest Syria to take part in a major regime offensive, while a number of the party’s fighters, including two commanders, have been killed in recent days.

 

On Wednesday, a Kuwaiti daily said that “Hezbollah is afraid of a terrorist reaction in the areas it controls in Lebanon after the Russian intervention that has imposed itself on the Syrian battlefield.”

 

“The party has doubled the number of security personnel at checkpoints leading in to Beirut’s southern Dahiyeh area,” security sources told Al-Jarida.

 

The source expressed concern over the possibility of “suicide attacks targeting the gatherings the party organizes to commemorate Ashura.”

 

“Especially after the obscure incident that took place last week,” the source added, in reference to an October 5 roadside bomb attack in Lebanon’s eastern border against a minibus thought to be owned by Hezbollah.

 

“A secret security meeting was held a few days ago between the party’s Liaison and Coordination Committee chief Wafiq Safa and [Lebanese] Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk to coordinate the implementation of the security plan which is supposed [to begin] in the days before [Ashura].”

 

“Machnouk understands the concerns of the party’s security chief and has [appointed] [Internal Security Forces] Information Branch officers [to act] as… liaisons between the two bodies so that any information can be delivered in a professional and swift manner.”

 

The Shiite holy day of Ashura—which commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussein in the Battle of Karbala in 680—has become a focal point for sectarian terror attacks in the past decade.

 

Hezbollah has tightened its security measures in recent years during Ashura, while Lebanon’s security forces have foiled terror attacks aimed against the party on the occasion. 

 

Last week, Lebanese daily Al-Joumhouria reported that fears have mounted over the potential of a new terror campaign targeting Hezbollah in Lebanon.

 

Lebanese daily Al-Joumhouria described the October 5 IED attack in the Bekaa border town of Chtoura as a “grave sign that indicates the return of bombings targeting Hezbollah convoys transferring fighters to Syria.”

 

“Fears of a resumption of bombing operations have been renewed," a source told the daily.

 

 

Meanwhile, Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai said that the Bekaa IED attack "may signal the possibility of a return to serial attacks targeting areas of high population and vehicle movement.”

Hezbollah supporters march on the occasion of Ashura. (AFP/Anwar Amro)

Hezbollah has tightened precautionary security procedures in certain Lebanese areas, the foremost of which is Dahiyeh.