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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 14th July 2017 > PARTY OF GOD ALMIGHTY

PARTY OF GOD ALMIGHTY

The Syrian war made Hezbollah stronger, but as tensions with Israel flare, the group risks losing much of what it gained

A TALL, husky man with a large machine gun stands next to a missile in a field just south of Damascus, Syria. It’s a warm morning in May, and pale yellow butterflies flutter around him. Rabieh is a Hezbollah fighter stationed in the area, and like other Hezbollah members who spoke to Newsweek, he asked to be identified by a pseudonym because he isn’t authorized to speak to the press. “God willing, we will soon liberate Syria and go back to our country,” Rabieh says. “But until that happens, we will stay here until our last breath.”

Since 2012, Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite organization, has been fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against rebel and extremist groups looking to oust him. Though many of its fighters have died in these hills and beyond, Hezbollah has emerged stronger and emboldened from the war. The Syrian conflict has given it training and experience, as well as an impressive arsenal of weapons, courtesy of Iran, Assad and Russia.

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