Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads

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Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by aqs » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:01 am

LATTAKIA, SYRIA AND BEIRUT, LEBANON — As Syria descends into civil war, Abu Jaafar said he is ready to kill women and children to defend his friends, family and president.

“Sunni women are giving birth to babies who will fight us in years to come, so we have the right to fight anyone who can hurt us in the future,” said the Allawite militiaman, a member of the ancient offshoot of Shiite Islam to which Syrian President Bashar Assad and the powerbase of his regime belong.

With his massive, tattooed muscles, shaved head, bushy black beard and trademark white trainers, Abu Jaafar, 38, looks every bit the figure of terror that is now imprinted on the international conscience. It is militiamen like Jaafar that are believed responsible for recent massacres in Houla and Qbeir, in which nearly 200 Sunni civilians were killed, many of them women and children who were stabbed to death.

Though he has a wife and children, after a day lifting weights and drinking some local Arak, Jaafar spends most evenings in the nightclubs of Lattakia, the port city on the Mediterranean coast where regime forces this week attacked a rebellious village.

As a member of the mafia militia who grew up smuggling commodities, appliances, drugs and guns between Syria and Lebanon at the behest of Assad’s extended family, Abu Jaafar has no problem getting past the nightclub bouncers.

Except when the “mualem,” his master, calls.

READ MORE:Arab Awakening

“If I get a call from my boss then my whole day is changed,” he said. “When I leave the house, I don’t know when I will be back.”

Packing up the Kalashnikovs, pistols, machine guns and grenades he said were given to him “by the government,” Jaafar joins his gang of 100 shabiha —named either for the Arabic word for ghosts or the old Mercedes Shahab popular for its smuggling-sized trunk — and sets off to crush Sunni Muslim protesters.

In an interview in Lattakia, Jaafar gave a frank and unique insight into the violent, disturbed world of the shabiha, a group that suffers from a dangerous cocktail of religious indoctrination, minority paranoia and smuggler roots.

The massacres in northern Syria, which UN officials, eyewitnesses and Human Rights Watch all concluded were perpetrated mainly by shabiha triggered a wave of international revulsion, with many analysts describing militia as a “Frankenstein” now beyond the control of the president. The regime blamed both massacres on foreign terrorists.

“The regime has been spawning militias, as deep down it is a militia pretending to be a state,” said a leading Syria analyst based in Damascus, who asked for anonymity to speak freely. “The Frankenstein is now completely out of control.”

READ MORE:Syria on UN’s ‘list of shame’ for torturing, killing and sexually attacking children

Like many of Syria’s estimated 2.5 million Allawites, a small mystic off-shoot of Shiite Islam which forms just 12 percent of the country’s population, Jaafar said he grew up in poverty.

“My story is similar to all shabiha: I was born in a small village and didn’t finish school. Instead I went to work with my father in our lemon farm,” he said.

It was during his military service that Jaafar was recruited into Syria’s security services, where uniformed officers worked with plain-clothed thugs in regime-sanctioned smuggling.

“I was bigger than the others so I got picked to be the bodyguard of a senior officer,” he said. “After military service, he asked me to be his man in dealing with some Allawite smugglers.”

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jaafar lived the gangster high life, plying his trade in well-organized smuggling networks, anchored in Lattakia’s port.

Food, cigarettes and commodities subsidized by the government would be smuggled from Syria into Lebanon, then in the midst of a civil war, and sold for massive profit. Luxury cars, guns and drugs, meanwhile, would flow from Lebanon up the Bekaa Valley and into Syria’s tightly restricted, Soviet-style economy established under Hafez al-Assad, the country’s former dictator.

“They were noted for their brutality and cruelty and their blind devotion to their leaders,” writes Yassein Haj Saleh, a historian and dissident. “The shabiha were untouchable and operated with impunity. If there were ever a conflict between the shabiha and the local authorities, the authorities would not dare defend themselves.”

The impunity stemmed from a single, but all powerful source: The direct links between the shabiha and the Assad family.

Reportedly established by Namir al-Assad, President Hafez al-Assad’s cousin, and Rifaat al-Assad, the late president’s brother, each shabiha gang grew up owing allegiance to a particular member of the extended Assad family.

Syria experts say members of the shabiha would be carefully selected for their physical strength, lack of education and blind loyalty to the Allawite sect and the Assad family in particular.

By the mid 1990s, however, the shabiha were beginning to get out of control and Hafez al-Assad ordered his elder son and heir apparent Basel, famed for horsemanship and a furious temper, to bring the militias to heel. He did so, but soon after died in a car crash, catapulting his awkward younger brother Bashar into the presidency.

Following Basel’s crackdown, Jaafar said he left his gang and opened a liquor store. He continued to exercise his biceps, which bear a tattoo of the zulfiqar, the sword of Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed, who Shiites follow as the rightful heir of Islam — the root of the great divide with Sunnis.

“Last June, friends from the shabiha asked me to return to work with them,” Jaafar said. “They said we must defend President Assad and his family and keep the power for the Allawite sect.”

Soon, Jaafar’s pay of about $20 for a day’s thuggery had risen to a steady monthly salary of about six times the average state wage.

“We started by facing the protesters, but when the opposition became armed we attacked them in their villages,” Jaafar said. “In addition to our salaries, we take whatever we can get during the attacks: TVs, video players, electronics.”

Eyewitness accounts speak of dead children, some with hideously deformed faces, where the machetes split their skulls.

“Whole families were slaughtered,” Abu Ahmed, a resident of Houla who witnessed the immediate aftermath of the attack, said. “Women and children were shot from close range or slaughtered with knives. The shabiha did all of that.”

Jaafar defends the government’s crackdown by repeating the regime’s long-held claims — which are now increasingly becoming true — that the armed opposition is receiving support from religiously conservative Sunni Muslim states like Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

“We got money and arms from our government to fight those Wahhabi radicals who will force my wife and daughters to wear the veil and will close all wine shops,” Jaafar said.

Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, said President Assad, who took power in 2000, had presided over “a state that has become a kind of mafia extortion network” in which militias and the businessmen who pay them have grown beyond his control.

“Bashar is the president but he does not command. In Syria it is not about constitutional authority but about kill or be killed, and Bashar is not the top killer. He’s a prisoner of the presidential palace,” Salem said.

The way Jaafar tells it, however, money is not the prime motivator for the violence that follows the call from mualem.

“I know the Sunnis will take revenge for what we have done. I am fighting to guarantee a good future for my sons and grandsons. So this is the final battle: Win, or die. There’s no third choice.”

A GlobalPost reporter in Lattakia, Syria contirbuted to this report. Hugh Macleod and Annasofie Flamand contributed from Beirut, Lebanon, with additional reporting by Rami Aysha. ... quads?bn=1

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Re: Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by Hanif » Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:22 pm

“I know the Sunnis will take revenge for what we have done. I am fighting to guarantee a good future for my sons and grandsons. So this is the final battle: Win, or die. There’s no third choice.”

There is no way at this juncture the Alawis will give up power. They know if they give up power, Sunnis, who are equally brutal and have vowed openly that if they come into power they will kill all Shias, will start with Alawites. I would add to that the Christians who have been supporting Assad because under Assad they had freedom of religion.

Islam has become religion of the beasts.

God help these Jahaliyas!

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Re: Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:43 pm

In Syria's Homs, Sectarian Spoils of War at Bargain Prices

BEIRUT (Reuters) - They call it the "Sunni market" - a comic term with a dark undertone.

As rockets and gunfire crackle in the central city of Homs, hardline loyalists from President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect steal goods from the shattered neighborhoods of Sunni Muslims, the majority population that led the revolt against him.

Grocery stores and thrift shops become loot markets.

"Maybe I'll nab a bargain," says a 50-year-old woman wandering through a supermarket that now trades in looted furniture. "I found a really nice kitchen table set made of gorgeous old wood. But he wants $200 dollars for it!"

Furniture usually goes for around $50 or less. Clothes and shoes are $5 to $20. Everything is open to negotiation.

The woman haggles with the shopkeeper. "These are the spoils of war. It's our right to take them," she says.

Even shopping now has a sectarian dimension in Homs, heart of the 15-month-old revolt against Assad, where killings and kidnappings based on religion became common.

Full report at: ... ia-crisis-

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Re: Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:55 pm

Saudi Arabia and Qatar Funding Syrian Rebels

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia and Qatar are paying salaries to rebel forces fighting in the Syrian revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, an Arab diplomat said on Saturday.

"The payment has been going on for months and the agreement was made on April 2 by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with logistical organization from Turkey where some Free Syrian Army factions are based," said the source, who requested anonymity.

"The point of this is to encourage as many factions of the Syrian army to defect and to organize the FSA, control it and prevent any extremist organizations from joining it."

A spokesman for Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry said on Saturday he was not aware of reports that the kingdom was funding Syrian rebels.

The United Nations says more than 10,000 people have been killed since violence broke out after Syrian government forces began a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters over a year ago.

Full report at: ... ia-crisis-

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Re: Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Tue Jul 03, 2012 4:34 pm

Syria's widows: Hungry and homeless, but undefeated

Tens of thousands of desperate refugees have poured into Jordan. Here, some of them tell the stories of how their lives were shattered by the fighting that has torn their homeland apart

With criminals and rebels helping them on their way, Syria's army of refugees marches by night, in single file and silence, towards the Jordanian border. More than 140,000 desperate people, many of them women and children, have sought sanctuary from their neighbour since the uprising in their homeland began 13 months ago and most now face an uncertain future.

Unlike Turkey, Jordan does not have a refugee camp and new arrivals are left to fend for themselves. They escape mostly "through the fence", too frightened to leave Syria by its official borders. For some this is because their documents were burned when the army torched their homes; for others it is because they are being hunted by the government because someone in their family is, or was, a fighter.

In Jordan most of the aid they receive comes from Islamic and Christian charities with limited resources. They get boxes of food from one group; another donates mattresses and kitchen sets. But it is not enough, and many wonder where the international NGOs are.

"They [the international aid agencies] have a lot of meetings," said the head of one charity well known to many refugees. "But I don't see anything on the ground. There is all this talking, and still the Syrians need beds and food and stoves." Many live in buildings that were formerly abandoned and lack basic necessities such as water and ventilation. Some of the poorest families are living in tents made from old jute sacks.

The border town of Mafraq in Jordan now hosts 10,000 Syrian refugees, almost all from rebel neighbourhoods of the city of Homs, where the fighting has left many of the women widowed.

"Everyone from Homs is either dead or escaped," said Ghada, a resident of the city who came to Mafraq four months ago. "Even the birds left."

This is her story, and those of some of the other courageous widows of Homs.

Ghada, 40, from al-Bayda, Homs. Mother of five girls and two boys

My husband was with the rebels. He was working as an ambulance driver, collecting people who had been shot by snipers and taking them to the field hospitals. Then he was killed by a sniper. He was taking a pregnant woman to hospital. That was 10 weeks ago.

He was a volunteer in the army; his salary was paid by the state. We had an arranged marriage when I was 20 – our families were neighbours. We had liked each other for years. He was a lovely person; he had a good sense of humour and liked to help others. We had a happy life before the revolution. He was easygoing. He liked whatever I cooked. After he was killed and we buried him, we went to Damascus to be with my in-laws and wait for things to calm down. But then we heard, from family who were still there, that security had looted our house and set it on fire, so we had nowhere to live any more.

The rebels told us that in nearby towns – Ashira, Karm al-Zaytoun, Baba Amr – the security forces would rape the young women and slaughter them with knives. I have four teenage daughters, so our family told us that we should leave. We were smuggled to Jordan by the rebels. Because my husband was martyred, the security forces were after us. The regime keeps the names of the martyrs and comes for their families. We lost our papers when our house was burned down.

Our escape started at 8pm, after dark. We were told to wear black and walk without making a sound. My 18-year-old daughter carried my four-year-old. We were so afraid that the security forces would ambush us. There were four families including ours; 10 rebels walked side by side with us and there were rebels in front and behind. It was hilly and the ground was rocky. There was moonlight. We were so frightened, just waiting to cross the border.

My brother-in-law rented this place for us. The church gave us the mattresses and a stove and the Islamic centre helps with food. We came with nothing; we barely carried ourselves.

Um Ahmed 38, from Baba Siba, Homs. Mother of four sons

My husband, Abu Ahmed, ,was an army officer. He worked for the ministry of defence as an inspector in an armaments factory. We had a good life. My husband had a good salary. I am a midwife, like my mother and three aunts. I have been delivering babies since I took the certificate when I was 14. My mother and my three aunts are also midwives. I can't tell you how many babies I have delivered, too many to count. When the revolution started, the Syrian army asked him to report for duty. He refused to go because they were killing children, so they arrested him.

He was in jail for 22 days. Then he told them, OK, he would join them. As soon as he was released he prepared our passports and our papers and got us out of the country. We have four sons, all boys, aged 16, 14, 12 and 10. Then he defected and formed his own battalion to fight against the Syrian army. That was in December 2011.

Full report at: ... en-courage

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Re: Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:14 pm

Assad, in Taped TV Interview, Calls Iran a Wise Friend

TEHRAN — President Bashar al-Assad of Syria thanked Iran as one of the “wise governments” seeking to protect Syrian stability in the face of the uprising against him, he said in a taped interview broadcast Thursday on Iranian state television.

Full report at: ... iew-calls-

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Re: Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:04 pm

JORDAN: Early marriage - a coping mechanism for Syrian refugees?

Some Syrian refugees arriving in Jordan are opting to marry off their daughters at a young age believing that marital status offers a form of protection and insurance.

Hana Ghadban, a volunteer with the Syrian Women Association (SWA), told IRIN that in the Syrian cities of Homs and Dera'a many girls are married at the age of 13 or 14.

"We're concerned about early marriages - using that as a coping mechanism. Jordan has a very strict law: You can't be married before 18 but you can get a waiver, with authorization of two judges, for younger ages."

"They rape girls who are as young as her in Syria now. If they raped a nine-year-old girl, they can do anything. I will not feel OK if I do not see her married to a decent man who can protect her," said the father of Hanadi, a pregnant child bride in Jordan aged 14. ... n-refugees

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Re: Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:49 pm

Horrific Syria Video Shows Bodies Hurled From Roof

Beirut: Horrific videos purportedly showing Syrian rebels throwing the bodies of postal workers off a roof and a man's throat being savagely cut have appeared online, raising fresh concerns about atrocities in the increasingly brutal conflict.

Three videos all showing apparent events in the province of Aleppo, including a bound man being repeatedly shot, were posted on YouTube today but their authenticity could not immediately be verified.

Both sides in the 17-month conflict have been accused of human rights violations as reports of cold-blooded killings mount.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said that if the videos were confirmed, he strongly condemned such atrocities whoever was behind them.

Graphic footage showed a crowd of people shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) as they gathered around several bodies on the ground before another three victims are seen being hurled from the top of the building.

The incident was said to have taken place in rebel-controlled Al-Bab near the northern metropolis of Aleppo and the victims were identified as postal workers, but it was not clear when it occurred.

"These are the heroes of Bab city who are inside the post office," the man shooting the video said. When the body of one man was thrown to the ground, the crowd is heard shouting: "This is a shabiha," referring to the pro-government militia.

In another shocking amateur video, a blindfolded man, with his hands tied behind his back, struggled as a group of men forced him to lie down on a pavement in Aleppo.

As a group of men chanted "Allahu Akbar," the assailant forced what appeared to be a small knife repeatedly across his throat as his blood spurted onto the pavement.

And a third clip, purportedly shot in Aazaz, also in Aleppo province, showed a bearded man being hauled out of a car boot with his hands tied behind his back and pushed to the ground.

One man opens fire on him with a small pistol, only to be joined by another with a rifle. They shoot many times at the man, who dies face down in a field.

"If these videos are confirmed, such atrocities harm the revolution. They only benefit the regime and the enemies of the revolution," Abdel Rahman told us. ... of/987810/

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Re: Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:15 pm

Iran ships arms, personnel to Syria via Iraq

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran has been using civilian aircraft to fly military personnel and large quantities of weapons across Iraqi airspace to Syria to aid President Bashar al-Assad in his attempt to crush an 18-month uprising against his government, according to a Western intelligence report seen by Reuters.

Earlier this month, U.S. officials said they were questioning Iraq about Iranian flights in Iraqi airspace suspected of ferrying arms to Assad, a staunch Iranian ally. On Wednesday, U.S. Senator John Kerry threatened to review U.S. aid to Baghdad if it does not halt such overflights.

Iraq says it does not allow the passage of any weapons through its airspace. But the intelligence report obtained by
Reuters says Iranian weapons have been flowing into Syria via Iraq in large quantities. Such transfers, the report says, are organized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

"Planes are flying from Iran to Syria via Iraq on an almost daily basis, carrying IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) personnel and tens of tons of weapons to arm the Syrian security forces and militias fighting against the rebels."

The intelligence report, which Western diplomats said was credible and consistent with their information, said Iran had cut a deal with Iraq to use its airspace. ... 54532.html

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Re: Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by aliabbas_aa » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:46 pm

Iran and syria GOVT both needs to be crushed by the USA. They deserve it like never before.

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Re: Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Thu May 23, 2013 6:21 pm

An Atrocity in Syria, With No Victim Too Small

BEIRUT, Lebanon — After dragging 46 bodies from the streets near his hometown on the Syrian coast, Omar lost count. For four days, he said, he could not eat, remembering the burned body of a baby just a few months old; a fetus ripped from a woman’s belly; a friend lying dead, his dog still standing guard.

antigovernment activists and human rights monitors are calling one of the darkest recent episodes in the Syrian war, a massacre in government-held Tartus Province that has inflamed sectarian divisions, revealed new depths of depravity and made the prospect of stitching the country back together appear increasingly difficult.

That mass killing this month was one in a series of recent sectarian-tinged attacks that Syrians on both sides have seized on to demonize each other. Government and rebel fighters have filmed themselves committing atrocities for the world to see.

Footage routinely shows pro-government fighters beating, killing and mutilating Sunni rebel detainees, forcing them to refer to President Bashar al-Assad as God. One rebel commander recently filmed himself cutting out an organ of a dead pro-government fighter, biting it and promising the same fate to Alawites, members of Mr. Assad’s Shiite Muslim sect.

Government troops and supporting militias went house to house, killing entire families and smashing men’s heads with concrete blocks.

Antigovernment activists provided lists of 322 victims they said had been identified. Videos showed at least a dozen dead children. Hundreds more people are reported missing.

Multiple video images that residents said they had recorded in Bayda and Ras al-Nabeh — of small children lying where they died, some embracing one another or their parents — were so searing that even some government supporters rejected Syrian television’s official version of events, that the army had “crushed a number of terrorists.”

One prominent pro-government writer, Bassam al-Qadi, took the unusual, risky step of publicly blaming loyalist gunmen for the killings and accusing the government of “turning a blind eye to criminals and murderers in the name of ‘defending the homeland.’ “

In one video that residents say shows victims in Ras al-Nabeh, the bodies of at least seven children and several adults lie tangled and bloody on a rain-soaked street. A baby girl, naked from the waist down, stares skyward, tiny hands balled into fists. Her round face is unblemished, but her belly is darkened and her legs and feet are charred into black cinders.

Men in partial or full military dress went door to door, separating men — and boys 10 and older — from women and younger children.

Residents said some gunmen were from the National Defense Forces, the new framework for pro-government militias, mainly Alawites in the Baniyas area. They bludgeoned and shot men, shot or stabbed families to death and burned houses and bodies.

Another resident, Abu Abdullah, said he had fled his house and returned after dark to find stabbed, charred bodies of women and children dumped in the square, and 30 of his relatives dead.

Omar, of nearby Ras al-Nabeh, the man who had dragged dozens of bodies from the streets, said he had helped Bayda residents pick up bodies, placing 46 in two houses and the rest in a mosque, then had run away, fearing the return of the killers.

One video said to be from Bayda showed eight dead children on a bed. Two toddlers cuddled face to face; a baby rested on a dead woman’s shoulder. ... d=all&_r=0

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Re: Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Sat May 25, 2013 4:28 pm

Washington backs down from overthrowing Bashar Al-Assad ... r-al-assad

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Re: Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Wed Jun 05, 2013 4:49 pm

Israel is Fighting a Regional War in Syria

The changing internal situation in Syria is putting a new set of plans into motion, which involve Israeli aggression against Syria.

Not only have the US and its allies been trying to militarily buttress the retreating anti-government militias, but now they aim to create a new phase in the conflict where states start asserting leverage against Syria in place of the weakening anti-government forces. In other words, external pressure is being applied to replace the declining internal pressure.

The entry of Israeli troops and the Mossad security service into Syria with repeated Israeli air strikes via illegal use of Lebanese airspace on the Syrian military research facility in the town of Jamraya clarifies Israel’s role in destabilizing Syria. Israel has also admitted that “intense intelligence activity” is being maintained in Syria by Israeli forces and that it is even thinking of occupying more Syrian territory as a new “buffer zone.” Fox News, which is openly biased in favour of Israel, has released a video of Israeli troops illegally crossing the Syrian border. Reports have also come out of Syria that an Israeli military vehicle was seized during fighting with anti-government forces in the town of Qusair, inside Syrian territory.

Read More :- ... ia/5336916

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Re: Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads


Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Tue Jun 18, 2013 4:15 pm

Hamas Urges Former Ally Hezbollah to Leave Syria

The Palestinian militant group Hamas on Monday urged Lebanon's Hezbollah militia to withdraw its fighters from Syria and accused it of stoking sectarian tensions, levelling unprecedented public criticism against a former ally.

The Hamas statement came as the region's Sunni and Shiite Muslims are lining up on opposite sides of Syria's civil war. Most of those trying to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad are Sunnis, as are their regional backers. Assad and key members of his regime are Alawites, followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam, and he is being supported by Shiite Iran, also the main backer of Hezbollah.

Last month, Hezbollah sharply raised its profile in the fighting in Syria, playing a key role in the Assad regime's capture of the strategic rebel-held town of Qusair. Many Sunni hard-liners have taken Hezbollah's intervention as a declaration of war by Shiites, and some have urged Sunnis to fight alongside the rebels.

Hamas, a Sunni movement, on Monday criticized Hezbollah over its growing role in the Syria conflict. In a statement, Hamas called on Hezbollah to "withdraw its forces from Syria and keep its weapons directed at the Zionist enemy (Israel)." Hamas also said that sending forces to Syria "contributed to the sectarian polarization in the region."

Hamas and Hezbollah used to be part of the self-proclaimed Iranian and Syrian-led "axis of resistance" against Israel. Hamas leaders in exile were based in Syria, and both Hamas and Hezbollah received funds and weapons from Iran.

Hamas leaders left Syria last year to protest Assad's crackdown on fellow Sunnis. Since then, Hamas has drifted away from Iran and moved closer to the region's Sunni camp led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, though it has not formally cut ties with Tehran.

Hamas and Hezbollah played important roles in Iran's attempt to set up heavily armed proxies on opposite sides of Israel — Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

For years, Hamas and Hezbollah enjoyed close ties.

Two decades ago, when Israel deported hundreds of Islamic militants from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to south Lebanon for a year, leaders of Hamas had a chance to meet face-to-face with Hezbollah leaders. The office of the Hamas representative in Lebanon is located in a heavily guarded Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut. Hamas officials have said Hezbollah has shared its military experience with their group.

Two Hamas officials in Gaza said Monday's statement is a result of growing outrage within Hamas over Hezbollah's involvement in Syria. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they did not want to pre-empt the movement's top leaders who have been meeting in Cairo since Sunday.

On Saturday, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, Ali Barakeh, met with a member of the Hezbollah political bureau, Hassan Hubballah.

Hezbollah said in a statement that the two discussed "the existential challenges facing the Muslim and Arab world today, particularly the war on Syria," but it did not elaborate. ... cC-e77rZLM