National Security Brief: Hezbollah Joins Syrian Military In New Offensive Against Rebels

(Credit: AP/Aleppo Media Center)

The Wall Street Journal reports that Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has joined a Syrian military offensive in an attempt to capture a rebel stronghold near the Lebanese border.

“Taking the town of Qusayr, southwest of the city of Homs,” the Journal notes, “would bolster recent gains by regime forces in central Syria and around the capital, Damascus” and could also “further embolden Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with an Argentinian newspaper, Assad appeared to downplay the utility of any U.S.-Russian-backed peace process. “We support and applaud the efforts, but we must be realistic,” he said. “There cannot be a unilateral solution in Syria; two parties are needed at least.”

In other news:

  • Reuters reports: Iran’s electoral watchdog said on Monday it would bar physically feeble candidates from running for president, in an apparent hint that it could disqualify 78-year-old former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from the race.
  • The Washington Post reports: President Obama will deliver a speech Thursday at the National Defense University in which he will address how he intends to bring his counterterrorism policies, including the drone program and the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in line with the legal framework he promised after taking office.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports: The U.S. is seeing a spike in al Qaeda-related terror plots and threats against its embassies in Libya, Yemen and Egypt, say current and former U.S. officials citing domestic and foreign intelligence reports.
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