They joined to fight Israel in Lebanon, but after multiple combat tours in the Syrian cities of Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, and around Damascus, Hezbollah reservists tell The Daily Beast that they are no longer willing to die in Syria’s unending, bloody civil war.
As a result of their refusal to continue volunteering to prop up the embattled government of Bashar al-Assad, they say that the Shia Party of God has cut off the money they were accustomed to receiving: reservist paychecks and permanent family benefits packages. What other consequences there may be remain to be seen…
A Sunni Muslim in his mid-thirties, Jaffar is not the typical cadre of a movement that champions Shia rights. In 2000 he joined Hezbollah’s Resistance Brigades—the movement’s non-Shia volunteer fighting force—to confront Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon. Since those days he continued to serve, including 15 deployments to Syria, but he doesn’t want to fight a war that he sees no way out of.
“I joined to fight Israel, why should I die in Syria? It’s a lost battle, we have lost thousands,” he says. Jaffar also blames the Syrian army for losing territory taken by Hezbollah, but sees the Russian intervention to prop up Assad as a definitive sign of the inability to militarily win a war that has ballooned into an international proxy conflict. “If the Americans, Russians, and Syrian [government] want a solution, they will find one,” he adds. “It’s a big game in Syria and it’s a misery.”