Thursday, May 23, 2013

With Hezbollah coffins, Syria exports conflict

On a country road in Lebanon's northeast, traffic is heavy; ambulances screech by, sirens blaring, and cars packed with mourners follow coffins as Hezbollah brings wounded fighters home from Syria, and its dead.

With the bodies from the battle over the border at Qusair, comes the violence, as civil conflict between Syria's Iranian-backed ruler and Sunni rebels spreads across the Middle East; the Shi'ite militia's drive to save Syria's president is testing Lebanon's own fragile, sectarian peace and raises the stakes in a broader struggle for power in the region and the wider world.

Having long denied its engagement in Syria behind President Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah has committed itself this week to the fight for the strategic small town of Qusair, sending hundreds of men and losing dozens wounded and between 20 and 50 killed.