Hezbollah fighters and the "jihadis:" Mad, drugged, homicidal, and hungry

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Hezbollah fighters during a ceremony in Beirut's southern suburbs. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

By: Radwan Mortada

Published Monday, May 19, 2014

Prior to the events in Syria, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda fighters had never met face to face. They clashed for the first time in the Syrian arena. For the Islamist fighters, Hezbollah is fighting under the influence of Captagon. Hezbollah fighters, on the other hand, believe their adversaries are "crazy, carrying spoons in their pockets in preparation for a meal with the prophet."

"Hezbollah members are takfiris," according to al-Qaeda fighters, and so are the members of the "international jihad" as perceived by their arch-enemy and many others. The two organizations had never fought each other before Syria. When the opportunity came, they clashed on several fronts in that country, in Ghouta, Aleppo, and Qalamoun. Both sides lost men and the upper hand went to Hezbollah. However, al-Qaeda's fighters believe that "losing a battle does not mean losing the war...for we are the victorious sect." The limited confrontation was a chance for both sides to create an image of the other.

Hezbollah's fighters do not underestimate their opponents from al-Qaeda and vice versa. They both give their adversaries their dues, without ignoring the generally negative landscape. Speaking to Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese al-Nusra Front fighter, who used to be stationed at al-Sahl front and Rima Farms in Qalamoun said, "some Hezbollah fighters looked like they were possessed."

"I was with a brother during the fighting," he explained. "Hezbollah fighters were facing us within our line of fire. We would shoot at them but they would not back down. We hit three of them but they continued to descend. Only a crazy person would do that. Their courage is not normal. I admit that." However, his companion interjected and said "it is certain that they are using drugs, Captagon." But how about accusations of drug use by his side? "Pills are forbidden by our Sharia," he declared. The reply came from the original interviewee: "Their side also forbids pills. Even if they were your enemies do not underestimate them. I saw them with my two eyes."

News of the recent confrontations in Qalamoun is the talk of the town in a Bekaa village, which became a refuge for a good number of fighters fleeing the confrontations. What is constant, by everyone's account, is that most fighters fled from the battles with the Syrian army and Hezbollah, with the exception of al-Nusra and the [Salafist] Green Brigade. Fighters from the two al-Qaeda related organizations lasted a few days, before withdrawing from one village to another. Despite this, there are many who boast about "individual heroism," which did not impact the course of the battle.

A fighter who was injured in al-Sahl battle and transferred to a hospital in Ersal explained that Hezbollah used "heavy firepower, which made the sky rain fire. They also depended on traitors among us."

"There are many differences between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda members," explained a young man from West Bekaa who fought inside Syria. "They are also more numerous and their weapons are more modern and more powerful. They have warplanes, tanks, Burkan rockets, and other types of rockets, which we know nothing about. They also have their uniforms and meals, which cost thousands of [US] dollars. On the other hand, al-Qaeda fighters need to borrow money and pay for their weapons and ammunition from their own pockets."

The Syrian army is also in possession of advanced weaponry. Why is the situation different with Hezbollah? "The party's creed is corrupt, of course. But the blind faith of its soldiers makes them bolder during the battles," he answered quickly. Does he know anything about the party? "The party is takfiri and will not hesitate to slaughter every one of us." But you are the ones doing the butchering "to get closer to God." He replied: "We butcher to terrorise our enemy and they also butcher."

The picture does not look different in the other camp. "Al-Qaeda is a paper monster, magnified by the media," a Hezbollah fighter told Al-Akhbar. The thirtysomething fighter, who participated in the battles of al-Qusayr and Qalamoun against the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Salafis, explained: "FSA members were amateurs. The Salafis were more vicious because of their ideology." However, "they are unorganized and none of their fighters could withstand heavy fire, even if their hearts were made of stone."

Another [Hezbollah] fighter in Qalamoun spoke about the "madness" of al-Qaeda fighters. "They attack by the dozens and get killed by the dozens, without interrupting their flow, until your finger gets tired from pulling the trigger," he explained. But how did he recognize them as Islamists belonging to al-Qaeda? "From their long beards, shaved moustaches, and banner," he replied. "They are only superior in their security operations, car bombs, and suicide bombers."

A third member of Hezbollah spoke about "al-Qaeda's mastery and its superiority in killing and brutality only in the areas they control. They have no chance in a direct confrontation with us."

Some Hezbollah fighters do not see a difference between al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Levant (ISIS). They believe "they are all takfiris and our battle with them is existential." One fighter described "the unprecedented courage of some al-Qaeda fighters. They refused to surrender in a clash inside a hospital in Deir Atiya after we surrounded them...They kept fighting until they were all killed after one of them blew himself up on one of the hospital floors."

Other Hezbollah fighters spoke about "individual acts of heroism by Islamist fighters. But ultimately, they do not fight as one." Another explained: "There is no distribution of tasks or plans of attack or defense...Fighting for them is 'hit-and-miss,' although many are excellent in individual combat, due to the fighting experience they accumulated from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Chechnya."

The clash between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda is a war that both sides are certain is a necessary evil. Despite acknowledging the adversary's qualities, negative and positive, this will not change the fact they are both fighting an existential war. Each side is doing what it can to eliminate the other, but it is certain that al-Qaeda and Hezbollah are opposites and will never join each other.

Follow Radwan Mortada on Twitter: @radwanmortada

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

You can't hate them enough. Hezbollah are Shi'ite Iranian-backed criminal terrorist murderers and ISIS are Qatari backed Sunni criminal terrorist murderers. Meanwhile Syria and Iraq have ceased to exist as functioning countries, hundreds of thousands are dead and millions displaced.

This is insanity.

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