Hezbollah fighters battling Syrian rebels have seen their death toll rise significantly over the past few days. As they fight alongside the Syrian army to retake the town of Yabroud, they have suffered the loss of 15 fighters so far this month, with funerals being held in neighbouring Lebanon.
The Lebanese Daily Star newspaper reports that Facebook pages affiliated with the group have been inundated with photos of dead fighters, with supporters offering messages of condolence to their relatives and praising their “martyrdom”.
Videos posted on YouTube also depict Hezbollah gunmen involved in heavy fighting with Syrian rebels.
A source close to Hezbollah told the Lebanese paper that around 500 fighters have been killed since they joined the Syrian civil war in 2012. A website also claims that they lost 40 fighters last month in the battle for Yabroud.
The group initially claimed in autumn 2012 they were in Syria simply to defend Lebanese civilians and protect the shrine to Sayyida Zeinab, granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammad.
In May 2013, however, Hezbollah acknowledged that they were deeply involved in the Syrian civil war. They justified their presence by saying that it was to stop “Takfiri” (non-beliver) groups taking control of Syria.