W. Thomas Smith, Jr

Hezbollah has “brazenly attacked the Lebanese Army” – in its Thursday shooting-attack on an army helicopter, killing 1st Lt. Samer Hanna and wounding several others – so say the leaders of Lebanon’s pro-democracy movement.

Hours after the shooting, Tom Harb, secretary general of The International Lebanese Committee for UN Security Council Resolution 1559 (which calls for the disarming of Hezbollah), tells me:

“This is tantamount to a declaration of war by Hezbollah, and if they will attack the Lebanese Army, they will surely have no qualms about attacking the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).”

Harb has just sent a letter to the UN stating such.

Hezbollah – a Shiia terrorist group with expansive ambitions both at home in Lebanon and abroad – is heavily funded and equipped by Iran and operationally supported by both Iran and Syria.

As we have reported, the group has strengthened its strategic positions across Lebanon in recent months. And in recent weeks, Hezbollah’s combat training and military posturing has increased in regions of the country far beyond its traditionally recognized southern defenses (below the Litani River) and Al Dahiyeh (Hezbollah’s south Beirut stronghold near the airport).

The doomed helicopter was in fact shot down over a rugged stretch of terrain in south Lebanon where sources have been informing us for weeks that Hezbollah and Pasdaran (Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) fighters have been conducting small-unit military exercises.

This is not the first time Hezbollah has attacked the Lebanese government. But it is one of the boldest attacks to date against the army.

In May, Hezbollah – which has been able to skirt UN demands to disarm by threatening Lebanon’s leaders and claiming to be a legitimate “resistance” force – turned its weapons on the Lebanese government and citizenry following government decisions to both fire a Hezbollah-linked airport security chief and shut down the terrorist group’s private telecommunications system (linking Hezbollah with Teheran and Damascus). In the end, Hezbollah won, was granted veto power over government decisions, and ultimately positioned as an “official” wing of the Lebanese Defense apparatus.

Simply put, Hezbollah has increased its leverage over the legitimate army. Hezbollah has infiltrated the officer corps of the army. But the army and police dare not go where Hezbollah does not permit, which is what the army apparently did today.

W. Thomas Smith, Jr

W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a former U.S. Marine rifle-squad leader and counterterrorism instructor. He is the author of six books, and he has covered war and conflict in the Balkans, on the West Bank, in Iraq, and Lebanon. Visit him online at http://www.uswriter.com.
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