Iran spreads its war wings: Hizballah deepens role in Syria. Israel, Syria, Lebanon “regions of conflict”

Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani

Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani

In a fundamental policy makeover, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) high command has resolved to deepen the Lebanese Hizballah’s intervention in the Syrian civil war, with wide repercussions on the stability of Lebanon and the Syrian and Lebanese borders with Israel. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s terrorist and intelligence arm, the Al Qods Brigades, was appointed to execute this policy of expanded regional intervention.

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that it embodies the latest decision by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to strictly separate Tehran’s approach to international nuclear diplomacy opposite the US from its intervention in regional conflicts – Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians – and direct confrontation with Israel.

Henceforth, Iran’s tactics in nuclear diplomacy for the relief of sanctions, and in the negotiations resuming in Geneva, Monday, Feb. 10 for ending the Syria war, will be sealed off in a separate policy compartment from the Islamic Republic’s pursuit of its regional goals in the “war arenas” of Syria, Lebanon and Israel.

Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah were notified of this change last week. It first surfaced in a call to arms by Hizballah’s second in command Sheikh Naim Qassem, which is reported to have drawn 5,000 new Shiite volunteers in its first push.

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