Deputy Hezbollah leader: ISIS will increase attacks in Europe

August 3, 2016  

The deputy leader of the Hezbollah terrorist group stressed on Wednesday that Hezbollah, Iran and Russia would stand by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad “until the end”, Reuters reports.

Speaking to the news agency, Sheikh Naim Qassem, who is the deputy of Hassan Nasrallah, said the sacrifices of Hezbollah prevented the ultra-hardline jihadists of Islamic State (ISIS) from taking control in Syria and expanding into Lebanon.

Hezbollah has sent fighters to Syria to fight the rebels alongside Assad’s army. It has incurred heavy losses in Syria, with some reports saying it lost one third of its fighters.

Qassem told Reuters that ISIS, which is being targeted by coalition air strikes, will increase its attacks in Europe and beyond, adding that the group has an expansionist strategy and will use any means to achieve its goals.

“European pains are big and will increase more and more,” Qassem predicted, adding that ISIS “will not leave an opportunity in all the countries of the world without exception to attack when it can and when is able to.”

He added that recapturing Aleppo, Syria’s second major city where a decisive battle is unfolding, remained an objective but was not an immediate goal.

Qassem said the United States, one of the power brokers in finding a solution to the crisis, was distracted by its November presidential elections and not ready to commit to any action until a new president takes over next year.

“The U.S. administration is convinced that the period ahead of the presidential elections is a wasted time, and that it can wait until the new president assumes power. Then, the prospects of a solution or of a prolongation of the crisis will be clear,” he told Reuters.

He further warned of a possibility that both Syria and neighboring Iraq, where ISIS has also seized territory, could split.

“So far the forces that want the unity of Iraq and Syria are able to prevent the idea of partition but we should remain worried about … the possibility that some countries might push these two countries or one of them into partition,” said Qassem, claiming that Assad was the best protection “for putting things back in order and reviving authority in Syria.”

The intervention of Russia’s air force since last September, after Iran, Hezbollah, and Iraqi Shi’ite militiamen had fought relentlessly to keep Assad in place, has confounded the designs of Washington and regional Sunni powers such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Qassem said.

“Iranian and Russian relations with Syria helped achieve steadfastness on the ground because both support Assad staying in power and back a political solution,” he told Reuters.
More than 280,000 people have been killed in Syria since the civil war began in 2011.

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