Designated terrorist Hashem Safieddine says Hezbollah ‘will not leave Syria’
Hashem Safieddine, the head of Hezbollah’s executive council who was designated as a blacklisted terrorist by Saudi Arabia in 2017, said that his militias “will not leave southern Syria or Syria” while speaking at an honorary ceremony on Sunday.
According to local media reports and Hezbollah’s media outlet, the al-Manar channel, Safieddine confirmed that Hezbollah fighters were heavily involved in the battles of Southern Syria, despite the Assad regime saying that there were no foreign militias in the area.
Safieddine was placed on Saudi Arabia and the US’s terrorist lists a few weeks ago for his involvement in several terrorist operations, and for his support of the Assad regime.
This is considered the first time that an official Hezbollah leader admits to being involved in the war in Syria, more specifically in Daraa, following false rumors that stated that Hezbollah had withdrawn from the southern area.
This development is also significant as the battle in the south extends to the area of separation of Israeli and Syrian forces under the Agreement of Disengagement concluded in 1974 between Syria and Israel.
Iran’s ambassador to Jordan, Mojtaba Ferdowsi-pour, had confirmed in May that his country had no deployed troops in southern Syria, stressing that his country played no role in the battle.
The ambassador’s remarks coincided with rumors of a withdrawal by Hezbollah from the southern region, especially following a statement by the Russian foreign ministry on the need to withdraw all non-Syrian factions from southern Syria.
Safieddine’s statements coincide with several Iranian militias, like the Zulfiqar Brigade and the Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas militia, which operates under the Assad regime’s Republican Guard, also confirming their involvement in the battles in Daraa.
Following a Russian-led brokered deal, Syrian rebels laid down their weapons and started evacuating their positions near the Golan Heights on Friday, paving the way for President Bashar Assad’s forces to retake their positions along the Israeli frontier for the first time since 2011.
The deal would mark a major victory for President Bashar al-Assad, restoring his control over the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.