In a move that could dramatically shift the face of the Syrian Civil War, Hezbollah has told Lebanon’s Daily Star that it is their intention to shift to a purely defensive role in the country, and that the town of Zabadani, near the Lebanon border, will be the last rebel-held target they’ll help attack.
That could be a big loss for the Assad government, which has relied heavily on Shi’ite militias, and Hezbollah in particular, for major combat operations. Though Hezbollah gave no indication why they had changed their mind, they indicated that Zabadani was the last site needed to protect Lebanon from Islamist infiltration.
This may not happen, however, as the Syrian military has agreed to an open-ended ceasefire with al-Qaeda in Zabadani, and Hezbollah probably won’t be carrying out their own offensive against the town during a ceasefire, despite its strategic importance.
The transition may reflect domestic pressure on Hezbollah, as many Lebanese factions have accused them of provoking cross-border attacks by al-Qaeda and ISIS by participating in the war in Syria, and have called on Hezbollah to stop intervening abroad.