Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has reaffirmed his group's full support for the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, telling a senior Lebanese politician that "the fall of Assad" would mean the end of Hezbollah as well.
Nasrallah made the comments during a meeting with the Leader of Lebanon's Free Patriotic Movement Michel Aoun last Thursday, according to the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar newspaper.
"President Assad and his government cannot fall as it would also mean the fall of Hezbollah and the axis of resistance," he reportedly told Aoun.
It comes as Hezbollah fighters take part in fierce battles with Syrian rebels in the Qalamoun region bordering Lebanon. Sunni rebels – spearheaded by Al Qaeda's Al Nusra Front – launched a preemptive assault on pro-regime positions in the area, which were amassing for their own offensive against rebel strongholds in the area.
Al Nusra is a leading force in the recently-formed "Army of Conquest" rebel coalition, which has made significant gains against the Assad regime, most notably in Idlib, where rebels recently seized the provincial capital and several other key regime strongholds.
Nasrallah is due to make a public address this evening (Tuesday), in which he is expected to once again reiterate Hezbollah's commitment to the war in Syria.
The Shia Islamist terror group's involvement in Syria has cost it dearly; Hezbollah has reportedly lost hundreds of fighters in Syria even according to the most conservative estimates, with many more wounded. Coupled with increasingly costly commitments in Iraq and Yemen, the Iranian proxy group is being stretched to its limits, and has reportedly begun relying increasingly on child recruits to fill auxiliary roles.
In a recent interview, Nasrallah struck a remarkably reserved tune, peddling back from previous vows to destroy Israel and admitting his group could not take on the Jewish state alone.
Hezbollah has also been stretched financially by its numerous regional commitments, with numerous reports claiming it is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.