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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 20 January 2017 > LIFE OF GOD’S PARTY

LIFE OF GOD’S PARTY

The Syrian regime won the battle of Aleppo, but the real victory belongs to Hezbollah, the resurgent Party of God

@SulomeAnderson

IN A SPARSE, one-room hideout in Dahiyeh, a Shiite suburb of Beirut, Ali, a stout, friendly-looking man in his early 50s, sits on an iron-framed bed. A pistol is holstered on his hip, and an M-16 rests on a nearby table. His friend, a grizzled man of about the same age, stands watch at the door.

Ali, who asked to be known by a pseudonym because he is not authorized to speak with the press, pulls out his smartphone and plays a video he recorded in Aleppo, Syria. In it, he’s dressed in camou age, carrying a large machine gun and crouching behind a thicket with three other fighters. The sound of gunfire and mortars echoes in the background. “That’s me,” he says proudly, pointing at the video. “Look what I do next.”

The video shows him stooping down and running into a clearing, where someone has erected a banner bearing the symbol of Jabhat al-Nusra, a rebel Islamist group ghting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Ali pulls the banner down and replaces it with the flag of Hezbollah, a powerful, Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite militia and political party that has been fighting alongside Syrian government forces since 2012.

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