FSA may soon launch counterattack on Hezbollah, says Jordanian ex-army official

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The Free Syrian Army (FSA) may soon be planning to launch retaliatory attacks on “elite Hezbollah forces” reportedly fighting in Syria, retired Jordanian major-general Fayez al-Doueiri told Al Arabiya on Monday night.

Doueiri, who is now a military analyst, said the reported continuing battles between the FSA and Hezbollah fighters could be a "positive development for the FSA as it is managing to inhibit Hezbollah's elite forces."

This may mean the "FSA is preparing to launch reverse operations to gain back what it lost in the past few weeks," he added.

He also said Hezbollah has dubbed its members killed in Syria as "martyrs of duty," a term previously used to describe its fighters during the July 2006 war with Israel.

Doueiri added that Shiite party has partially lost its combat capabilities.

"Hezbollah has lost plenty of positions (in Syria), and this will affect it negatively if a confrontation happens."

Hezbollah, a close ally of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, has denied Syrian opposition accusations that it has sent its elite troops into Syria to support regime troops battling insurgents.

It says Syrian rebels have targeted Shiite areas of Syria inhabited by Lebanese and that Shiites in Syria have a right to self-defense.

But the accusations against Hezbollah have multiplied as fighting escalated this week in the Qusayr area near the Lebanon border.

Last Tuesday, the FSA reportedly killed 18 Hezbollah fighters in Qusayr, activists at the Syrian Revolution General Commission reported.

The fighters were allegedly killed in a battle between the Syrian rebels and the Hezbollah fighters.

Last week, Assad reportedly told Lebanese politicians that Syria’s “main battle” at present is raging in the Qusayr area, close to the Lebanese border.

Speaking to a delegation of Lebanese backers of his regime, Assad said his forces were determined to succeed in the area “at any cost,” according to Abdel Rahim Mrad, a former MP who spoke to AFP after the meeting in Damascus.

“The main battle is taking place in Qusayr,” he quoted Assad as saying.

“We want to finish it at any cost and we want to do the same in Idlib,” a province on the Turkish border in the northwest which is a major rebel stronghold.

The two-year Syrian conflict, which started with peaceful protests against the president, has morphed into a civil war that has affected its neighboring countries, including Lebanon.

At least 70,000 people have been killed since the start of the Syrian conflict and about 1.4 million left their conflict-ravaged country, the U.N. says.