Cartoon from a Syrian opposition website: Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah sends his operatives to the Syrian oven (Akhbar al-Balad website, Syria, May 27, 2013)
1. So far the involvement of Hezbollah in the Syrian civil war, in our assessment, has cost the organization almost 180 deaths and several hundred wounded. This assessment is based on our having located 82 names of operatives killed, in addition to 96 names found previously.
2. Most of the Hezbollah operatives (120) killed met their deaths during the campaign for Al-Qusayr, the majority of them (114) in the final battle (that began on May 19, 2013, and ended on June 5, 2013, with the takeover of the city). Several dozen Hezbollah operatives were killed defending the compound of the grave of Al-Set Zaynab and others in other battle sites. In addition, we have names of several other Hezbollah operatives who were killed but without data about the location or circumstances of their deaths, only short Hezbollah announcements that they were killed while engaged in carrying out the duty of jihad in Syria.
3. Among the names are 13 who were killed after June 5, the date of the takeover of Al-Qusayr. In our assessment, some of them were killed while clearing Al-Qusayr and its environs of opposition forces, some defending the grave of Al-Set Zaynab south of Damascus (where Hezbollah is still involved in skirmishes) and some in locations and under circumstances about which we have no information. Some of the operatives may have been killed in the battles in the Aleppo region where there is Hezbollah involvement (although its role is secondary).
4. The distribution of the 178 Hezbollah deaths according to places of origin is the following:
1) South Lebanon – 88 killed
2)Beqa'a Valley – 64 killed
3) Beirut – 11 killed
4) Mt. Lebanon and north Lebanon – four killed
5) A Shi'ite village in Syria (Al-Qusayr region) – one killed
6) Unknown – ten killed
5. Accordingly, most of the Hezbollah operatives killed (about 50%) were from south Lebanon. (The large number of deaths of operatives spread among the villages in south Lebanon continues to be conspicuous.) About 36% were from the Beqa'a Valley, and about 6% were from Beirut; the rest came from Mt. Lebanon, north Lebanon and the region of Al-Qusayr – or whose origins we could not trace.
6. The number of losses Hezbollah has suffered is great, especially during the final battle for Al-Qusayr (114). In our assessment, that is because it was a main combatant in the fighting, its operatives were fighting offensively in an unfamiliar urban setting, and the rebels apparently showed strong resistance, especially fighters from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front who fought alongside the rebels (who, according to media reports, also suffered heavy losses).
7. The large number of losses fueled criticism of Hezbollah inside Lebanon and among the Lebanese Shi'ites, although the level of criticism is apparently still tolerable as far as Hezbollah is concerned and does not keep the organization from being sucked further into the Syrian civil war. However, in our assessment, the significant number of losses in Al-Qusayr may influence the way Hezbollah supports the Syrian army in the campaign to takeover Aleppo and the surroundings. An example of that was In any event, the statement made by the Hezbollah in the region of Aleppo to the Sunday Times. He said that Hezbollah's role in Aleppo would be one of supervision and advice to the Syrian army, and not fighting in the front lines.
8. For the names and pictures of the 82 Hezbollah operatives who died in the fighting in Syria since May 22, 2013, see the Appendices.