The Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group has denied reports about the withdrawal of its fighters from Syria after President Vladimir Putin ordered the withdrawal of Russian main forces from the war-torn country.
“False messages have been circulated about the partial withdrawal of Hezbollah fighters” from Syria, a Hezbollah official told RIA Novosti Russian state news agency.
The Hezbollah official warned the media “not to fall in the trap of such lies and rumors.”
Sources close to Hezbollah also denied in remarks to pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that Hezbollah is planning to withdraw from Syria where it is backing President Bashar Assad against the rebels seeking to topple him.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told the newspaper that Hezbollah has lately carried out replacements within the ranks of its fighters.
He ruled out any possible pullout of the party from the neighboring country in the near future.
“Hundreds of Hezbollah members who have been fighting in Syria have started since yesterday afternoon to return to their homes in [Beirut’s] Dahiyeh,” Janoubia website claimed Monday evening.
Janoubia said their information was confirmed by “sources close to the party,” who only a week ago had told the outlet that Hezbollah was mobilizing its troops to resume an offensive on the town of Zabadani, which has been subject to a tenuous truce since late September 2015.
Janoubia’s short report was published shortly after Putin dropped a political bombshell on Russian TV with his announcement that the he ordered the withdrawal of the “main part” of Russia’s military force in Syria.
There were high hopes this week that Russia’s withdrawal would give a push to peace talks being held in Geneva to try to end Syria’s brutal five-year conflict which has resulted in the killing of 270,000 to 500,000 people