Hezbollah parade in Syria showcases foreign weapons

Hezbollah held a military parade in the Syrian city of Qusayr during the weekend, the first of its kind outside Lebanon.

The parade marked the annual “martyr’s day,” to commemorate the anniversary of a 1982 suicide bombing by 17-year-old Ahmad Qasir targeting an Israeli military headquarters in south Lebanon’s Tyre.

The choice of Qusayr as a location for the event is meant to represent Hezbollah military power and success as well as its strategic closeness to Assad’s regime. It was the first city captured from the Free Syrian Army by Hezbollah militants, when they first got involved in Syria’s civil war in 2013. It has since been held and run by the group and is largely cut off from surrounding areas.

Photos of the event were posted on social media accounts belonging to senior sources in the organisation and the parade was covered in pro-regime Syrian news.

The photos show an extensive arsenal, including Soviet-made T-72 tanks and KS-12A anti-aircraft cannon. They also featured American-manufactured M113 armoured personnel carriers (APCs), of the type given by the United States to the Lebanese army (LAF). This has prompted concerns about Hezbollah’s access to arms sources, as the LAF receive US military aid. Reportedly there were a number of captured Israeli tanks on display.

Hezbollah’s military wing was categorised as a terrorist organisation in the UK in 2008 and by the EU in 2013 and the movement openly admits its extensive funding by Iran.

In June this year, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader reportedly stated: “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Hezbollah reportedly has over 100,000 rockets. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot described the group as the biggest threat facing Israel. The recently appointed new President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, is both a Hezbollah ally and has ties to the Syrian government.

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