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Hezbollah media offensive looks for edge in war for public opinion

REDEMPTION SONG: The Syrian war is as much about propaganda […]

17 February 2014

REDEMPTION SONG: The Syrian war is as much about propaganda as about military strategy. This week, Hezbollah supporters released this song about the “victories” that the Lebanese Shiite militia has achieved on Syrian territory, seeking to bolster the group’s morale in the ongoing battle for the rebel-held town of Yabroud in the Qalamoun mountain range, 50 kilometers from the Lebanese border.

The song is called “Resolve to be victorious in Yabroud,” an allusion to Hezbollah’s past victories, including its perceived victory in the 2006 war with Israel.

The battle is being fought by “Hezbollah in partnership with the government’s shabiha and other sectarian militias,” said Amar, a spokesperson for the pro-rebel Qalamoun Media Center. A coalition of rebel forces, including Jabhat a-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army-affiliated Joint Command of Qalamoun, currently control the town.

Regime forces launched heavy artillery fire and mortar shelling on the town Monday as the Joint Command of Qalamoun released a video of themselves destroying a regime tank outside the city.

“O Nasrallah, meet your duties,” the singer, Ali Barakat, chants, referring to  Hezbollah General Secretary Hasan Nasrallah, before calling on “Umma Haider” to fight in Yabroud, a reference to the wider community of Shiite Muslims.

On Sunday, Nasrallah announced Hezbollah’s continued commitment in the Syrian war, saying the armed group would continue to intervene in response to other Arab countries’ meddling in the conflict.

“The dangers of takfiris threaten all of the Lebanese people, and therefore we are concerned with combatting this menace,” he said.

Though Hezbollah fighters entered Syria earlier, Hezbollah first announced its intervention in Syria in the June 2013 battle for al-Qusayr, when the Syrian government gained control of the small town between Homs and Syria’s western border with Syria.

In December 2013, Hezbollah supported Syrian troops as they seized a number of towns in the Qalamoun region in the northern Damascus suburbs, moving south of al-Qusayr into Qara, Deir Attiyeh and Nabek. The government advance left Yabroud as the largest remaining rebel-held town in Qalamoun and strengthened the government’s hold of the highway connecting Damascus with Homs and the coastal provinces of Latakia and Tartous.

“The lions came from my [southern Beirut Hezbollah stronghold of] al-Dahiya to eradicate your existence in Yabroud,” Barakat sings, threatening rebel groups.

Video courtesy of قرية كحيل حوران.

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