Hezbollah has sent thousands of combattants -- between 5,000 and 8,000 according to experts -- since 2013 to help the Syria regime against rebels and jihadists
Beirut (AFP) - Lebanon's powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah has played a crucial role on the side of the Damascus regime in the war in Syria.
The organisation, which on Friday announced the death in Syria of its military commander, has sent thousands of combattants -- between 5,000 and 8,000 according to experts -- since 2013 to help the regime against rebels and jihadists.
Syria is a majority Sunni Muslim country, but the regime is in the hands of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite clan, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
- Solidarity and logistical support -
- April 18, 2011: Hezbollah expresses firm support for Assad's regime, just over a month after the start of unprecedented anti-regime protests in Syria.
- December 6: Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vows to stand by Assad to the end, lashing out at Syria's opposition for allegedly serving US and Israeli interests.
- August 10, 2012: The US Treasury Department denounces Hezbollah -- linked to Iran and listed by Washington as a terrorist group -- for backing Assad and adds it to a list of organisations under sanctions for their ties to the Syrian regime, pointing to its "integral role" in the violence.
- Battle for Qusayr -
- April 30, 2013: Hezbollah fighters are aiding troops in Syria to combat the revolt, Nasrallah reveals, adding that Hezbollah and Iran could intervene on the ground.
- June 5: the Syrian army recaptures the key town of Qusayr, in a mountainous rebel stronghold along the Lebanese border, following an assault led by Hezbollah.
- Attacks on Hezbollah strongholds -
- August 15, 2013: A powerful car bomb kills at least 27 people in a Beirut Hezbollah stronghold. A day later, Nasrallah says he is ready to fight in Syria and accuses Sunni Islamist radicals for the bombing.
- November 19, 2013 : A double suicide attack claimed by an Al-Qaeda-linked group targets the Iranian embassy in Beirut, killing 25 people.
- February 19, 2014: Two suicide car bombs target an Iranian cultural centre in Beirut, killing 11 people. It was the ninth attack in a Hezbollah stronghold since July 2013.
- November 12, 2015: Twin blasts claimed by the jihadist Islamic State group kill at least 44 people on a busy shopping street in southern Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold.
- In Syria, the Sayeda Zeinab mausoleum, where Hezbollah says it is fighting "takfiris" (Sunni Muslim extremists who consider Shiites heretics), has been attacked on several occasions by jihadists, including a triple explosion in January 2016 in which at least 70 were killed and a double suicide attack in February that killed 134.
- Military chief killed -
- March 21, 2016: Nasrallah vows Hezbollah will keep fighting in Syria alongside Assad's forces until the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda jihadists are defeated, speaking a week after a key Assad backer, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, announced the partial withdrawal of Moscow's forces.
- May 13: Hezbollah announces the death of its military commander in Syria, Mustafa Badreddine, in a blast near Damascus airport, saying it was still investigating the attack.