Russia has begun to directly arm Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists in Syria, according to a report this week by The Daily Beast.
Hezbollah field commanders serving in Syria told the news outlet they are receiving “heavy weapons” for their troops “with no strings attached.” Among the arms they reportedly have received were long-range tactical missiles, laser-guided rockets and anti-tank weapons.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin so far has not denied the report.
“We support both Assad’s army and the armed opposition,” Putin said in an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper. “Some of them have publicly declared this, others prefer to remain silent, but the work is ongoing.
Putin claimed Russia’s actions are directed towards the destruction of the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist organization.
“This is hundreds, thousands of armed people fighting Islamic State (Da’esh). We are coordinating our joint operations with them and support their offensives by air strikes in various sections of the front line,” Putin said.
The Hezbollah commanders deployed in Syria confirmed in speaking with The Daily Beast that there is a relationship of “complete coordination” between Russia, Hezbollah and its patron, Iran, and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.
Direct inter-dependence between Hezbollah and Russia is increasing as well, as time goes on, according to that report.
“I can tell you precisely what we do not want to happen,” Putin told Bild. “We do not want the Libyan or Iraqi scenario to be repeated in Syria.”
But it is also true that Russia does not consider the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah group to be a terror organization. Last November, Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying, “We maintain contacts and relations with them because we do not consider them a terrorist organization.
“They have never committed any terrorist acts on Russian soil. Hezbollah was elected by Lebanese citizens to the Lebanese parliament. There are cabinet members and ministers from Hezbollah in Lebanon. It is a legitimate sociopolitical force.”