As thousands of Hezbollah men aid Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and fight alongside them in Qusair, they are faced with an organization that until recently was their close ally – Hamas. Arab media reported Thursday morning that according to Syrian opposition sources, in light of Hamas' support of Syrian rebels, Hezbollah is demanding of Hamas men still in Lebanon to leave the country "immediately and within hours."
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Lebanese officials close to Fatah said that a Lebanese defense official said to Hamas' representative in the country, Ali Baraka, that all people affiliated with Hamas in Lebanon are no longer welcome in the country. The decision came as a response to the Palestinian Islamist movement’s role in the ongoing war in Syria against the regime of President Assad.
Hezbollah in Syria (Photo: Reuters)
Baraka himself denied the report to Lebanese newspaper Al-Liwaa. "We contacted Hezbollah officials who were surprised from this report," the Hamas representative claimed. "Hamas is staying in Lebanon and nothing has changed so far," he clarified.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem elaborated on the regime's relation with Hamas Wednesday. "No Arab country gave Hamas what Syria has given them," the Syrian minister claimed. Moallem never confirmed that Hamas is taking part in the Syrian battle against the Assad regime, yet said: "Syria was put on the US terrorist organizations list because of its support of Hamas and because it hosts it in its territory. In my last meeting with Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal, he said that Hamas will leave Syria because of its foreign relations issues and that the organization will move to Qatar."
In April, the London Times reported that Hamas, which terminated ties with the Assad regime, began training the Free Syrian Army rebels in Damascus. Diplomatic sources told the Times that members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades are training the opposition organization members in areas under their control. That development confirmed that Hamas has officially disconnected from Syria and adopted Qatar as the new patron.
The Assad regime has given Hamas refuge since 1999, when the organization was expelled from Jordan. It became part of the "resistance axis," composed by Iran and Hezbollah as well, yet with the start of the uprising it found itself jammed between the loyalty to the regime and its obligation to its Palestinian supporters, who mostly support the opposition. As the only Sunni movement in the axis it could not have turned its back on the Sunnis, fighting the Alawites – the dominant community in Syria for the past few decades. As the civil war intensified, Hamas shut its offices in Syria and Mashaal left Damascus.
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