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UNIFIL, Hezbollah Prepare For Possible Syria Strike

Having cooperated for decades in southern Lebanon, both UNIFIL forces and Hezbollah are preparing for the repercussions of US-led military action in Syria.
Spanish peacekeepers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrol on their armoured vehicle in Khiam village, southern Lebanon July 24, 2013. Europe's decision to blacklist Hezbollah's "military wing" was triggered by the Lebanese movement's growing role in Syria, but the partial ban may have little practical impact due to fears of destabilising Lebanon and the wider Middle East.     REUTERS/Ali Hashisho (LEBANON - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY) - RTX11X5R

There are no guarantees that the UNIFIL soldiers in Lebanon — in charge of protecting the Blue Line along the Lebanese-Israeli border that was set according to UN Resolution 1701 — are safe from the repercussions of a potential US military strike on Syria, if such an operation were to expand. It should be noted in this regard that one of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon's (UNIFIL) main forces is made up of French soldiers, who number over 800. Moreover, France is considered the most ardent supporter of US President Barack Obama’s military strike against the Syrian regime, while Hezbollah is the most zealous group in defending the persistence of this regime. The fact that UNIFIL’s region of operation is located in the stronghold of the popular base and the invisible military base of Hezbollah, means that France — which has a weighty presence in UNIFIL — and Hezbollah are united on one land. Consequently, questions about the possibility of smooth coexistence between them in south Lebanon are raised, in the event of the expansion of a US military strike.

On that note, there are concerns that Hezbollah would become a part of the military war if the scale of the US strike expands to topple the Syrian regime, instead of just punishing it with a limited strike. In this case, UNIFIL soldiers will become hostages of a front that could flare up at anytime between Hezbollah and Israel. It is not unlikely that Hezbollah would target French soldiers in UNIFIL, should the French government involve itself in an open war alongside the United States against the Syrian regime. There are bets in the West that Lebanon will stay impartial in the Gulf-French-US war on Syria. The odds of this happening are high if Iran and Hezbollah discover that the US strike is partial, and does not aim at toppling the regime. However, if the opposite is proven true, Hezbollah will most probably ignite things on the Lebanese front with Israel in the framework of a pressure tactic on the latter, so that it interferes and pushes Washington to stop the attack aimed at overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad.

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