Lebanese Shiite guerilla group, Hezbollah, has begun withdrawing some of its fighters battling alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s troops against Syrian rebels, after pressure from the government in Beirut, according to media reports.
Citing diplomatic and intelligence sources, The Times reported that Hezbollah has started scaling down its presence in Syria, giving in to pressure from the government, which sees itself as being increasingly alienated by regional governments.
Hezbollah, which had over 10,000 fighters in Syria, has only “a few thousand” left in the civil war-ravaged country, according to The Times.
But sources close to Hezbollah said the real reason behind the withdrawal was tactical and not due to any political pressure.
Lebanese officials have expressed concerns over Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria, which said was straining the country’s diplomatic ties with other Arab states as well as inciting local sectarian violence.
The Syrian conflict’s spillover exacerbated sectarian tensions in Lebanon.
Hardline Sunni groups in Lebanon, siding with the mostly Sunni Syrian rebels, warned Hezbollah over its involvement in the neighboring country.
Last month Lebanon held a security meeting after clashes between Hezbollah fighters and members of a Sunni clan. The clashes killed five people in the eastern city of Baalbek.