Syria: Hezbollah training Alawite elite force

By: Caroline Akoum

BEIRUT, Lebanon – The Syrian military is forming a new elite force of made up of 60,000 fighters, according to a report from the “tar-Tass news agency. The agency cited an expert at the London-based International Strategic Research Institute as saying that “western intelligence has obtained information that the armed security regiments (the shabbihah) that are made up of the Alawite community would be integrated in a division similar to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”

The expert pointed out that the preparation and training of this elite division is being done by Iranian experts in Syria who number around 2,000 and added, “We are expecting the number of government forces to double in the coming months which portends a prolongation of the conflict in Syria and provides Al-Assad’s regime with new prospects.” According to British analysts’ conclusions, this division that is being set up will when necessary provide protection for the Alawite areas on the Mediterranean coast.

Commenting on this information, the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) deputy chief of staff, Colonel Arif al-Hamud, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the regime resorted from the beginning of the revolution to forming divisions it called “popular committees” in the Alawite areas that are made up of the community’s members. It armed and subjected them to military crash courses by Syrian intelligence services.

“But the regime is today resorting to turning these popular committees into military regiments that are sent to the hot areas and the best evidence is what happened in Darat Izzah in Aleppo countryside when the FSA succeeded in killing around 40 shabbihah elements from one village, Wadi al-Uyun,” Al-Hamud told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“We have confirmed testimonies by officers working in military intelligence and special forces who defected recently confirming that Iranian experts and from the Lebanese Hezbollah have started to run courses for trainees from the special forces and military intelligence, the majority of them Alawites in addition to some Sunni officers. These started in February and are continuing to this day with the course running between three and four weeks in (Al-Durayj) area that is near Damascus which was before then a training center for the Special Forces before the storm troopers and paratroopers’ school was built.” Al-Hamud added.

The FSA’s deputy chief of staff asserted that these officers who have defected had also taken these courses which focused on sniper and individual killing by forming small units capable of carrying out lightning and quick operations.

Al-Hamud went on to say that these divisions being professionally trained might form the nucleus of a special army that the regime is establishing for the purpose of suppressing the revolution, confronting the FSA and protecting the Alawite state, adding that a large quantity of military equipment and heavy weapons were recently transferred to the Alawite areas.

Source: Asharq Al-Awsat

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