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Thousands of Iran-backed fighters offer to join Hezbollah in its fight against Israel
TIWN June 23, 2024
Thousands of Iran-backed fighters offer to join Hezbollah in its fight against Israel

Yemen, June 23 : Thousands of fighters from Iran-backed groups in the Middle East are ready to come to Lebanon to join with the militant Hezbollah group in its battle with Israel if the simmering conflict escalates into a full-blown war, officials with Iran-backed factions and analysts say.

There has been almost daily exchanges of fire along Lebanon's frontier with northern Israel since fighters from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip staged an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on October 7 that set off a war in Gaza. The situation to the north worsened this month after an Israeli airstrike killed a senior Hezbollah military commander in southern Lebanon. 

Hezbollah retaliated by firing hundreds of rockets and explosive drones into northern Israel after Eid. As the cross-border firing continued, Israel threatened a military offensive in Lebanon if there was no negotiated end to push Hezbollah away from the border. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday said militant leaders from countries in the Middle East have offered to send thousands of Iran-backed forces to help Hezbollah.   Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Israel would "turn Beirut into Gaza" in the event of a war. However, a wider escalation could also overwhelm Israel's famed Iron Dome missile defence system that has so far intercepted most of the hundreds of missiles fired by Hezbollah.

Nasrallah claimed that Hezbollah already has more than 100,000 fighters. “We told them, thank you, but we are overwhelmed by the numbers we have,” he said, adding that the battle in its current form is using only a portion of Hezbollah's manpower, an apparent reference to the specialised fighters who fire missiles and drones.  However, Nasrallah had previously hinted at the possibility of an all-out war with Israel in 2017 in which he said fighters from several countries "will be partners". Over the past decade, Iran-backed fighters from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan fought together in Syria's 13-year conflict, helping tip the balance in favour of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.



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