The longer this thing drags on the more dead Hezbollah and al-Qaeda fighters there will be, it’s a win-win for us.
DEAD SEA, Jordan — Lebanon’s Hezbollah has 5,000 troops fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria, and another 5,000 are getting ready to join them, a World Economic Forum gathering heard Sunday.
Salman Shaikh, director of the Doha Center of the Brookings Institution think tank, said there were also 1,500-2,000 fighters from Iraq in the battlegrounds of Syria. He said that not only was Syria “on the abyss,” but that after two years of civil war, there was growing danger that the fighting could draw in “the entire region.”
Shaikh cited the Hezbollah figures a day after the Shiite group’s leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah admitted for the first time that his group had deployed fighters to Syria, saying his group would not stand idly by while its chief ally is under attack.
Shaikh said Israel “should do its best to stay out of the conflict.” But “it should also give up on the old paradigm of ‘better the devil you know.’” He said his fear was that “Israel will be increasingly drawn in” — in part because of ongoing Russian weapons supplies to Syria, and because the UN peacekeeping forces in Syria and Lebanon were coming under increasing strain.