The capture of Aleppo by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia and Hezbollah, has given a boost to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Shiite movement's deepening involvement in the Syrian war since 2013 had led to a narrowed margin of maneuver at home, as political and social pressures increased on it. The battle for and victory in Aleppo Dec. 22 has reinforced Hezbollah’s “winning” narrative vis-a-vis its political opponents and among its popular base and will potentially help justify future battles the organization might wage in Syria.
“Hezbollah’s capture of Aleppo shows that its fight alongside the regime of Assad was the right thing to do,” Abdallah Younes, a Shiite resident of the Bekaa Valley, told Al-Monitor. Hezbollah’s decision to send thousands of fighters to support Assad resulted in heavy fallout in the Bekaa and elsewhere in Lebanon, for which the Lebanese criticized the organization. The fertile Bekaa, on the border with Syria in eastern Lebanon, has been on the front line of the Syrian war since 2013. Syrian rebels have repeatedly shelled the region, which has also been the target of several terror attacks. In 2014, Jabhat al-Nusra carried out suicide attacks in the area. Hezbollah and the Lebanese army have also clashed with Islamic State (IS) fighters in the mountainous Qalamoun area, east of the Bekaa. IS was behind several attacks in the Bekaa, including one on the Christian village of Qaa in June 2016.