Hizbollah-leder Hassan Nasrallah holdt en tale på deres egen tv-stasjon, Al Manar, der han lovte støtte til Bashar al-Assad. Nasrallah sa Hizbollah ikke svikter sine sanne venner slik at sionister, amerikanere og islamister kan vinne.
Det var nok de siste som var adressaten: shiaer er i økende grad blitt måltavle for radikale sunni-opprørere og Hizbollah ser på seg selv som deres beskyttere. Det gjelder ikke minst shiaer fra Libanon bosatt i Syria som er blitt truet til å flykte.
Hvis minnesmerket over profeten Mohammeds datterdatter blir ødelagt eller skjendet lovet Nasrallah å ta en grusom hevn. Den sekteriske krigen er allerede i full gang.Lokale shiaer ba om våpen for å beskytte seg da forfølgelsen begynte, men fikk det ikke. Nå er de innrullert i lokale forsvarsforeninger, og regimets utholdenhet skyldes nok at dets overlevelse og minorietenes er blitt samme sak. Det er alvorlig for opprørerne, for derved mister de også legitimitet.
Ruth Sherlock rapporterer fra Libanon:
«A large number [of rebels] were preparing to capture villages inhabited by Lebanese… so it was normal to offer every possible and necessary aid to help the Syrian army,» Mr Nasrallah was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
The Hezbollah leader said it had never hidden its martyrs, but that reports that large numbers of its fighters had been killed were lies.
He also warned that if a key Shia shrine south of Damascus – that named after Sayida Zeinab, a granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad – were to be destroyed, it would spark revenge that could get out of control.
«If the shrine is destroyed things will get out of control,» he said.
Mr Nasrallah tried to reassure his domestic audience that – above all – Hezbollah wanted to avoid the Syrian war coming to Lebanon, adds our correspondent, but many there may find little to comfort them in this latest show of defiance.
The announcement came hours after 14 people were killed by a powerful explosion in Damascus, and a day after Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi survived a car bomb attack in the Syrian capital.
Hvis man skal forstå hvorfor regimet overlever, skal man lese om hvordan radikale sunnier terroriserer og dreper shiaer i Syria.
The testimonies given by Shia refugees who have fled to Lebanon paint a graphic picture of how the Syrian rebellion is becoming beset by deep-seated sectarianism, with hardline Sunni rebels now bent on building and uncompromising Islamic state.
“I heard the imam in the mosque next to our home call for jihad — holy war — against the Syrian regime, and against the Alawites and Shia. They were shouting it from the minarets,” said Awatif, 60, too frightened of reprisals to give her family name.
“The neighborhood next to ours was burned. Friends found crosses marked in red on their doors and then they were attacked. That was when we knew we had to leave.”
Awatif and her elderly husband Ali, 70, are among thousands of Shia families to have sought refuge across the border Lebanon, in their case in the mountain village of Machaghara.
In Damascus, their home was near the Sayyida Zainab shrine, believed to house the remains of the granddaughter of Prophet Mohammed and one of the holiest sites for Shias.
At the outset of the rebellion two years ago, some tacitly supported President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite sect is a branch of Shia Islam; others were less keen, and blamed him for killing opponents.
But after sustained persecution by Sunni militias they say their survival depends on the protection of the Assad regime, which now funds their neighbourhood defence forces.
“We believe now that we have a religious cause as we feel that the Shia now are being targeted. Sunni gangs told us to take the Sayyida Zainab shrine and to leave,” said Fatma Merhi, 77, sitting alone in a bare room in her house in Machaghara.
“We have lived through many regimes so it is unfair to be called loyalists of Bashar al Assad. I am loyal to my country and it fills me with sorrow to see it destroyed. This is about defending ourselves. If the regime goes now we will have no future.”
Above her is a portrait of her son Radwan Merhi, 53, shot dead by a rebel sniper in a Shia unit fighting in the Jobar district in Damascus.
Mrs Merhi’s hands, veiny with old age, trembled beneath that black-velvet mourning shroud as she remembered the man who stood proudly in the photograph, wearing military fatigues and to the backdrop of the Syrian flag. Tears fell down her cheeks, and her mouth hung open in a silent sob.
Her only remaining son also fought in the popular committees she said.
Despite her fear for his life she said she had urged him to keep fighting.
In early 2012, the area fell foul to a wave of attacks by radical Sunni militiamen. It began with death threats but then the violence grew to include the suicide bombings now rife across Damascus, and a self-confessed trademark of the al-Qaeda linked group Jabhat al-Nusra.
On April 13m 2012 two gunmen assassinated Sayed Naser al-Alawi, a Shia religious scholar and prayer leader in the Husseiniyah mosque, close to the Sayyida Zainab shrine.
Ali’s son, who gave his name as Abu Haider, 29, was a caretaker in the Husseiniyah mosque. He said: “I started receiving death threats because I was a servant in the Husseiniyah. I found letters stuck to the gates outside the mosque. They used my family name and called me a ‘Shia dog’,”.
“The third letter gave me 72 hours to leave. It said they would cut my head off and leave it hanging on the Sayyida Zainab shrine”.
Three days later a group of armed gunmen, their faces masked in black balaclavas, mistakenly kidnapped a man in a cafeteria when Abu Haider believed he was the target.
Several friends and other religious clerics were found killed in the street or assassinated in their homes over the next few months, the family recalled.
Although fighting against the rebellion, Abu Haider and his family did not use to be dogmatic supporters for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: “I blame the government for the killings that happened in early days. We aked them for weapons to protect ourselves but they refused. We felt defenceless.»
Now, more than a year on, the relationships between Sunnis and Shia have broken down, and Abu Haider said he had no choice but to fight.
“Now the regime has organised the people into armed forces. They have organized neighbourhoods so that everyone who is capable of holding a gun can come to fight.
“I am considered an army officer. In order to put them on the payroll the government has to include civilian conscripts in the military ranks. I receive a salary of $150 per month.”