September 17, 2014
Southern Suburbs, Beirut, Lebanon
Interview with Hezbollah Group Commander
A Hezbollah commander, fresh from battle against IS in Syria, gives an exclusive interview discussing the state of Hezbollah in Syria, the battle against IS and Nusra, his opinion about American strikes against IS, and Hezbollah's readiness for a new war with Israel.
The commander discusses details about battlefield issues and difficulties. He also declares that he "hopes for a war to start between the Zionist enemy and Hezbollah soon", and that he has "no problem with the American people," but does have "a problem with American policies."
The commander's voice has been altered to protect his identity.
Q: Can you please introduce yourself? Name or codename
A: In the name of God, the merciful. My name is Jaafar, I am a member of Hezbollah.
Q: Please tell us about the amount of people signing up to fight with Hezbollah?
A: Thank God, volunteers are coming in on a regular basis. It [enrollment] has increased after the war in Syria and the 2006 war. [It increased] Especially after the Syrian war because it is known and in the open now. They [Syrian opposition] want The Resistance’ head, Hezbollah’s head. You are probably seeing the events and measures being taken by media outlets [to fight Hezbollah], or even the nature of movements on the ground are affecting [fighting] Hezbollah. Hezbollah gains strength from the blood of the martyrs. This is a grace from God and we are thankful for that.
Q: In the recent battles, in Arsal and Qalamoun, it is obvious that Hezbollah is taking casualties. How big are these casualties in comparison to those suffered by the ‘Takfiri’ [extremist] groups?
A: Specify what you mean by casualties. Human casualties? There are no human casualties. There are martyrs and wounded people, not casualties. If you are talking about materials losses we might agree with you, but if you are talking about people, we have martyrs and wounded men, not casualties. These people are fueling this cause and this march, our martyrs in who we take pride. Material losses are the casualties that we can agree with you on.
Q: How can we compare martyrs and wounded of Hezbollah to the casualties among the ‘Takfiri’ [extremist] groups?
A: We in Hezbollah do not hide any martyrs and this is not in our traditions. When a Hezbollah fighter is killed, he is buried on the second, third, fourth or first day, depending on the battlefield and the moving of the body, and when his parents wish to bury him in his hometown. Nothing more.
You need to see the other side, they are not organized. Everyone works according to their own thoughts or according to those financing them. As for Jabhat Al Nusra, who are the terrorist group with the biggest presence on the border between us and Syria, I don’t believe that they talk about their casualties.
As for our intelligence and security services, we always give them accurate accounts in names and numbers, if you have noticed, while they [Jabhat al-Nusra], on the other hand, do not announce [their casualties] until a while after they have been killed. This is the difference between them and us.
Q: What is the level of Hezbollah’s readiness at this point in time regarding the danger of a war on both the eastern front [Syria] and southern front [Israel] simultaneously?
A: The Resistance [Hezbollah] against Israel, who are stationed on the southern borders of Lebanon, are entirely concentrated on the Israeli occupier in body, mind, and soul. The
operations of the young men fighting on the eastern Lebanese-Syrian borders is entirely unrelated to the battles with the Israeli enemy, and anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.
Q: So if we need to know a percentage of readiness?
A: With Israel? More than 100%, and this is the case all of the time. You can even label it as ‘holy’. Regarding the situation in the whole of Lebanon, Hezbollah is completely ready in all areas that Hezbollah has influence. We have nothing to do with areas where Hezbollah hold no influence.
Q: Now that you’ve mentioned this, we have heard news that Hezbollah is helping, either through training or arming, some parties in the Christian border towns. How accurate is that?
A: To be honest with you, I do not have information from Hezbollah about this subject in particular, but I have information from someone close to those (Christian) villages, like Deir El Ahmar and Ras Baalbak. Something like that is going on, so I have not heard this from Hezbollah, but I have heard it from someone close and he has confirmed this to me. This is all I can say
Q: Can you please clarify? What did he confirm? What did he say?
A: He confirmed that Hezbollah is protecting Christians with all possible means. For those who want to defend themselves with their own hands and weapons, Hezbollah is providing them with the means to be ready, which includes arming individuals.
Q: How many Christians are actually signing up for this?
A: I have heard that 90% of [Christian] villages… and the Lebanese Forces [political party] and the Phalange Party are not happy with that because no one is providing them with any support.
Q: In the Qalamoun and Arsal fronts, to be specific, who is Hezbollah fighting against?
A: 83 countries, all of them. Those who were fighting us in Qusair are now fighting us in the outskirts of Arsal, that is the mountainous area outside Arsal. Not inside Arsal, we are present in the mountains defending our land, country and Resistance. We will be where we should be. There are many nationalities: Uzbeks, Chechens, Egyptians, Palestinians, all of the gulf and Arab countries. We have 83 countries operating against us: the Europeans, Americans, British, you name it. God willing we will be victorious.
Q: Since you have mentioned the Americans, we are hearing that American and other airstrikes against ISIS are already underway. Can we say that there is a temporary intersection of interests between Hezbollah and the United States?
A: If I were to answer you about the Americans and their ISIS allies, we would be wasting time. You are a politician and a journalist and you understand these things, so us talking about this would be like us making fools out of each other. They (ISIS and the US) are allies and one team, period.
Q: If we were to give a description of the nature of the struggle now, the Americans are now bombing some ISIS positions and Hezbollah is fighting against ISIS and other groups.
A: When we fought ISIS, Nusra and terrorism everybody stood against us. Now everyone is saying what we were saying, but there is a difference in dealing with it. Hezbollah started two and a half years ago. They should come to us and strike an alliance with us. Isn’t that right? We are way ahead of all of them.
Q: In your opinion are these airstrikes and this alliance a pretext or a prelude to bomb some (Syrian) regime positions in Syria?
A: You need to see what is being prepared internationally. It will not be long. All will be clear in a matter of days. I do not have accurate information about this subject and I am not a political analyst. I can tell you about the nature of the terrain and soldiers. The geography of the battlefield, or what took place in this position or that. However, to talk about something international that I am not familiar with would be beyond me.
Q: Can you please tell us, without revealing any secrets, where is Hezbollah present on the ground in Syria?
A: I can answer about the areas that I was present in. The Sayyida Zeinab shrine [in Damascus], Ghouta [Damascus], Jobar [Damascus], the Damascus suburbs, and the mountains separating Lebanon and Syria. There is a Hezbollah presence in all of these areas. Qusair and the outskirts of Qusair. Aleppo. I have some friends who operate in Aleppo, in an area called Zahra, which has been under siege for three years. I have not heard of, seen, or been to other places.
Q: What is the nature of the frontlines in these places? Can we briefly talk about every front and how intertwined the lines are [with Nusra/ISIS/FSA]? How close is the engagement with the enemy?
A: This depends on the geography and terrain. In some places it’s house-to-house, window-to-window, man-to-man, and on some fronts, no one advances, neither them nor us. In the wider, more open areas, the snipers use 23mm and 57mm guns, not the Dushka or the12.7mm guns [because of the large distances]. Imagine that. The distances are vast. Every terrain has it’s own circumstances, geography and weaponry. There are some mountainous areas with rough terrain that have their own style because you can’t hide from each other at close range. You need to secure a hilltop and fortify it [and advance from] from one hilltop to another or one mountain to another. This is not house-to-house, so the nature of terrain makes a big difference.
Q: Was there a certain front that proved to be more difficult than others?
A: in terms of terrain or combat?
A: The mountains. There are vast distances beyond what the eye can see. This doesn’t offer the same help you get in towns like Qusair. This requires more troops and heavier weapons, aerial bombardment, artillery and tank fire. It has it’s own style and takes more time.
Q: Since you have mentioned aerial bombardment, what is the extent of coordination between Hezbollah and the Syrian army when it comes to military operations?
A: This is up to the leadership of Hezbollah. We have 100% accuracy when it comes to targeting. The targets that we request the Syrian air force to bomb are hit with 100% accuracy. Not 75% or 50% like it used to be before. This has changed after the battle of Qusair. This is what I can help you with. There were mistakes before, I won’t deny it, it happened with a number of groups. However, this stopped after Qusair.
Q: On the ground, in the areas where Hezbollah is present alongside the Syrian army, who has command on these fronts?
A: We do not participate in any attacks alongside the Syrian regime. The Syrian Army handles one front and we handle another. We deal with ours and they deal with theirs. Sometimes, this hasn’t happened to me, the Hezbollah and Syrian Arab Army forces are engaged and intertwined. However, in the fights that I was involved with in Hezbollah, we were in one place and the Syrian Arab Army was in another. Yes there exists coordination, but the lines are not intertwined.
Q: So in this case who is in command?
A: When you [Hezbollah] are on a certain front and they [the Syrian Army] are on another front, the field commander [of each side] has command, but the coordination is present so that we wouldn’t shell each other with artillery.
Q: We heard on Israeli Media that threats were being made against Lebanon and that there were preparations for war. In your opinion, how serious is this? And how will The Resistance [Hezbollah] retaliate? And what is their level of readiness?
A: We in The Resistance do not take the words of the Zionist enemy lightly. We have political and military minds and analysts who observe and analyze, in depth, on the short and long run when it comes to the Zionist enemy. This is due to wise leadership headed by the secretary general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
Q: So you take the threats seriously?
A: We do not neglect anything regarding the Zionists, even if it were a small or big thing. All gets dealt with seriously and meticulously.
Q: Could there be an imminent war on the southern front? [Israeli front]
A: This is what we hope for.
Q: Can you please give me a complete answer because my question will not be aired?
A: This is what Hezbollah hopes for, for a war to start between the Zionist enemy and Hezbollah soon, God willing. This is what we hope for. This is what every member of Hezbollah hopes for.
Q: Can we say that The Resistance is fully ready?
A: Of course, you can say that with the utmost confidence.
Q: Tell us about a certain incident that will allow me to illustrate the influx of volunteers joining Hezbollah’s ranks. Do you recall a certain incident?
A: In what respect? Be more specific.
Q: In terms of influx and people wanting to join.
A: This is an ongoing process in Hezbollah. This [Hezbollah] is a school [of resistance] ever since they [Israelis] occupied our land in south Lebanon and Hezbollah, thanks to God and the young men, is growing in numbers. Hezbollah never deteriorated. For 30 or 32 years, since 1982, Hezbollah is on the rise, and thanks to the almighty God, whoever fights Hezbollah falls, declines and perishes. God willing, and the biggest proof of that is the Israeli withdrawal and the blows that were delivered to the Takfiris [Extremists] in Syria. We are continuing, God willing. This is a universal war against us and we are all-in.
Q: What do you say to some media outlets who are saying that Hezbollah and the Americans are now allies?
A: We are not even remotely concerned with these outlets. We never relied on those media outlets that you are asking about, nor on human rights or the United Nations charter. We do not care about all that. We rely first on God and then ourselves.
Q: So can you tell me if Hezbollah and the Americans are allies?
A: Your question is out of place.
Q: it is out of place because you and I know each other.
A: This is my opinion and my doctrine. This is all I can answer. We do not have a problem with the American people; we have a problem with American policies. Take a look at American policies in the Middle East and the world, from the times of Hiroshima until this day, and you will know if Hezbollah is with it or against it. We will let the viewers decide that.
Q: Is there a certain message that you would like to send to an audience that might be Arabic or western that will be viewing this interview?
A: We rely on people’s intelligence and awareness. [We do not rely on] People who are bought with money or intimidated by force or the media. There are honest people who take to the streets carrying the banners of resistance from Hamas to Hezbollah to the Islamic Jihad. These people and this resistance will never die. These people are there, but their rulers are corrupt. The people are present, just give them some hope of being able to express their opinions freely and they will do just that. They are entirely with us.
Q: There is a question that I forgot to ask at the beginning. Through your engagement with Takfiri [Extremist] groups, what can you say about the level of their training and arming?
A: They are being armed by all countries and their training comes from places as ranging from Turkey to Chechnya, to Iraq, the Balkans and Somalia. All of the areas where Al Qaeda and Wahhabis are active, from Yugoslavia, to Bosnia, and Serbia. Those who have not fought in these places are being trained in Turkey and Jordan, and in Saudi Arabia, according to some information. We are fighting 83 countries and an influx of money and media outlets and weapons and hundreds of thousands of fighters, but it is very well known where the Banner of God and his prophet lay. It lies with the just cause.
Q: Do you, as a person and as a Hezbollah fighter, have any fears that, after the upcoming airstrikes against ISIS, extremist fighters will spillover into Lebanon?
A: God willing, we are waiting for them. They are attacking civilians, children, old people and women.
Our fight with the Takfiris [Extremists] is in the battlefield, not in the different media outlets. We are in the field. If they want to fight Hezbollah, let them leave the civilians out of this and, if they are men as they claim, we are here. Let them come face us. We don’t kidnap or cut throats, we fight. The prisoner we take is a prisoner of war, while they cut throats of prisoners and wounded.
Q: Since you mentioned prisoners, it is no secret that Hezbollah has taken prisoners from these groups.
A: That is possible. I can neither confirm nor deny that. It is possible.
Q: I want to ask you about how you treat the prisoners you take from these groups, if you have taken any prisoners.
A: We follow the rules of the Islamic religion. When we released the Israeli enemy hostages, they themselves talked about how [well] they were treated. So how do you think we will treat those who are neither Jewish nor Zionists? Time will prove that