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Two rockets hit a Shi'ite Muslim district of Beirut on Sunday, driving home the risk of spillover from Syria's civil war, after the head of Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah said it would keep fighting on the Syrian government's side until victory.
It was the first attack to apparently target Hezbollah's stronghold in the south of the Lebanese capital since the outbreak of the two-year conflict in neighboring Syria, which has sharply heightened Lebanon's own sectarian tensions.
The question now is whether the Syria conflict, which began with peaceful pro-democracy protests in 2011, could erupt into a religious war between branches of Islam, pitting forces backed by Shiite Iran, such as Hezbollah, against militias backed by Sunni-run states like Saudi Arabia or even Turkey.
The prospect of a “holy war” in the Middle East adds urgency to joint calls by Russia and the United States for an international conference on Syria. The risks of an intra-Muslim conflict engulfing the region are too great to ignore this plea for peace. One need only look at the ongoing violence in post-Hussein Iraq to see how intractable a Sunni-Shiite conflict over Syria might be.
A pure war over religious doctrine is rare in history, and that may hold true in this case. Much of the struggle in Syria is a geopolitical contest between Iran and Saudi Arabia for influence in the region. This competition began after the Iranian revolution in 1979 and accelerated in 2003 when Iraq shifted from being led by a Sunni-led regime to one that is Shiite-dominated and Iran-leaning.
Both the Syrian government and the opposition Syrian National Coalition indicated Sunday they are interested in a peace conference next month in Geneva, Switzerland, though both sides tempered any optimism about the summit with caveats.
"We have in principle agreed to participate in Geneva, pending hearing more clarity about the purpose and the intentions of the Syrian regime -- the Assad regime. So far, the signals have been not positive," coalition spokesman Louay Safi said from Istanbul, where opposition leaders have been meeting to discuss the pending summit and to determine new leadership for the coalition.
"The Assad regime has to make it clear that they are there to engage in talks about transition to democracy, and as part of Geneva, understanding that would mean that all the powers that resides today with Bashar al-Assad will be given to the transitional government. Until this point, this is not clear," he said.
Syria's Civil War Spills Over the Borders: Hezbollah Declares War on Rebels, Vows to Fight With Ass
PARIS - Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have repeatedly used chemical weapons against rebel fighters in Damascus, according to first-hand accounts in France's Le Monde newspaper.
The newspaper, in a report issued on its website on Monday, said one of its photographers had suffered blurred vision and respiratory difficulties for four days after an attack on April 13 on the Jobar front, just inside central Damascus.
Undercover in and around the Damascus area for two months alongside Syrian rebels, a Le Monde reporter and photographer said they had witnessed battlefield chemical attacks and had also talked to doctors and other witnesses of their aftermath.
They describe men coughing violently, their eyes burning, their pupils shrinking.
Originally posted by Tuttle
Hezbollah are not to be messed around with, Israel found that out themselves after Hezbollah annihilated them on the ground during the last Israeli invasion in 2006. Glad to see the forces of freedom and democracy coming together to fight the terrorist threat once and for all.