Home » Hizballah » Hizballah Cavalcade: Hizballah’s Multiplying Qusayr Martyrs

Hizballah Cavalcade: Hizballah’s Multiplying Qusayr Martyrs

NOTE: For prior parts in the Hizballah Cavalcade series you can view an archive of it all here.

By Phillip Smyth

Hizballah Cavalcade: Hizballah’s Multiplying Qusayr Martyrs

 

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Figure 1: Hizballah fighters pose under a road sign pointing to the Syrian city of Qusayr. (Source: Facebook).

On April 30, 2013, Hizballah leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah finally made an official announcement signifying Hizballah would become more greatly involved in the Syrian Civil War. Coinciding with his speech were a number of Facebook, pro-Hizballah forum, and other online webpage posts (often with photographs) showing funerals of Hizballah members. These posts had also occurred for well over a month prior to the Nasrallah speech. While Hizballah had been more publicly involved in the conflict in Syria since the summer of 2012 (with the announcement of the first Hizballah members killed in Syria), the speech appeared to be the first truly publicized acknowledgement of what was originally covert Hizballah activity inside Syria.

The weekend spanning May 18-20, 2013 was one filled with martyrdom announcements from Lebanese Hizballah. These announcements coincided with some of the heaviest fighting witnessed since the start of an over-a-month-long, combined pro-Bashar Assad, and Hizballah offensive. This offensive targeted the strategic area of Qusayr. Qusayr serves as a communications link between Syria’s hilly coastal ‘Alawi heartland, Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated Bekka Valley, and Syria’s capital, Damascus.[1]

Hizballah often obscures the activities of its fighters in Syria. When a Hizballah member is killed, the phrase, “Killed while performing jihad duties” is regularly utilized by the organization as a description for how and why the member died.

As the Qusayr offensive picked-up steam, the numbers of Hizballah dead multiplied greatly. On May 19, 2013, Hizballah officially released a list of 12 Hizballah members killed.[2] On the other hand, Pro-rebel sources claimed anywhere from 20-120 Hizballah members were killed. Hizballah Facebook pages posted different numbers, ranging from 8-15 killed. Additionally, not all of the newly killed Hizballah members had photographs of themselves posted online.

Pro-Hizballah Facebook groups have taken the brunt of responsibility in spreading the news of new Hizballah dead. These pages are often the first to post photographs of Hizballah’s fallen. In turn, pro-Hizballah Facebook pages demonstrate a high level of online organization. Posts announcing newly killed Hizballah members on different pro-Hizballah Facebook pages often occur within minutes of each other. Honing Hizballah’s message further, these pages also share similar photographs. Such activity underlines how information is vetted and then conveyed to the public about those killed. This fact may also demonstrate official Hizballah involvement in announcements of their dead on Facebook.

There are other dead Hizballah members who were killed in Qusayr before the turbulent weekend. However, the posted list includes individuals who were announced by Hizballah as “Martyred” during the fighting from May 18-20, 2013. Currently (May 20, 2013, 12:00PM EST), that number stands at 20 (though, it may be updated with more information). Additionally, only names which could be cross-referenced using a variety of Hizballah sources were incorporated. These sources included pro-Hizballah Facebook pages, Iranian websites, pro-Hizballah forums, official, and semi-official websites.

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Name: Hassan Faysal Shaker

Death Announced: May 19, 2013

Notes: Shaker’s place of death was not listed on Facebook, forum, or official web posts. Shaker was originally listed as killed-in-action in an official Hizballah announcement. The announcement reported a group of 12 Hizballah fighters were killed while fulfilling their, “Jihad duties”. This photo was the only one released and could only be found on pro-Hizballah Facebook pages and on pro-Hizballah forums.

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Name: (Al-Haj) Muhammed Salman al-Khalil

Death Announced: May 19, 2013

Notes: Khalil’s place of death was not listed on Facebook, forum, or official web posts.

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Name: Muhammed Ali Assad Bakri

Death Announced: May 19, 2013

Notes: Bakri’s place of death was not listed on Facebook, forum, or official web posts.

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Name: Abbas Muhammed Uthman

Death Announced: May 19, 2013

Notes: Uthman’s place of death was not listed on Facebook, forum, or official web posts. He was one of 12 dead, who were named in the official Hizballah notice.

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Name: Fadi Muhammed al-Jazar

Death Announced: May 19, 2013

Notes: One pro-Hizballah Facebook page reported Jazar was killed fighting in Qusayr. This was one of the first announcements of a Hizballah fighter being killed in that area. The Times of Israel reported Jazar was a Hizballah “Field commander” at Qusayr and from 1991-2004 he was jailed by Israeli authorities after attacking Israeli positions on the Israel-Lebanon border. Jazar was part of a prisoner exchange in 2004.

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Name: Muhammed Fouad Raba’

Death Announced: May 19, 2013

Notes: Raba’’s photo shows him holding a modified M4 carbine and posing in front of the 23mm quad-cannon toting ZSU-23 anti-aircraft gun. Raba’ was part of an official Hizballah announcement that a group of Hizballah fighters were killed fulfilling their, “Jihad duties”. This photo was the only one released and could only be found on pro-Hizballah Facebook pages.

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Name: Ibrahim Husayn (A.K.A. Abu Ali or Hatem Husayn)

Death Announced: May 18, 2013

Notes: Husayn’s death was announced as part of an official Hizballah announcement that a group of Hizballah fighters were killed while fulfilling their, “Jihad duties”. On two pro-Hizballah Facebook pages, it was claimed that Husayn’s death occurred while “Defending the Zaynab Shrine”. This is a common narrative used to describe Hizballah members who have been killed in Syria. However, it is possible that Husayn could have been serving in Damascus with Hizballah-staffed front groups like Liwa’a Abu Fadl al-Abbas. Other dead Hizballah members from the weekend of May 18-19 did not repeat the claims of that note with their Facebook martyrdom announcement posts. The official website for the town of Bint Jbeil (which is Hizballah controlled) did not report that Husayn was killed defending the Zaynab Shrine. On May 20, an official Iranian website for the Young Journalists Club, reported Husayn was a Hizballah commander.

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Name: Hassan Ali al-Shahrour

Death Announced: May 18, 2013. Funeral held on May 18, 2013.

Notes: According to YaHala.org, a pro-Hizballah website, Shahrour’s funeral was attended by many senior Shia religious leaders. Al-Ahed, one of Hizballah’s official news organs, reported that Hizballah MP Muhammed Ra’ad attended the funeral. This was the likely due to the fact that Ra’ad represents Nabatiyeh in Lebanon’s parliament. Photos were posted on Facebook pages, YaHala.org, and BintJbeil.org.

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Figure 2: Shahrour’s funeral was led by members of the Mahdi Scouts (Hizballah’s official scouting program). To the right of Shahrour’s posters, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini is pictured on another poster.

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Name: (al-Haj) Ahmed Wael Ra’ad

Death Announced: May 19, 2013.

Notes: No photo was posted. Ra’ad was part of an official Hizballah announcement stating a group of Hizballah fighters were killed fulfilling their, “Jihad duties”.

Name: (al-Haj) Radhwan al-‘Attar

Death Announced: May 19, 2013.

Notes: No photo was posted. ‘Attar was part of an official Hizballah announcement stating a group of Hizballah fighters were killed fulfilling their, “Jihad duties”.

Name: Hassan Hariri

Death Announced: May 19, 2013.

Notes: No photo was posted. Hariri was part of an official Hizballah announcement stating a group of Hizballah fighters were killed fulfilling their, “Jihad duties”.

Name: Radhi al-Sha’er

Death Announced: May 19, 2013

Notes: No photo was posted. Hariri was part of an official Hizballah announcement stating a group of Hizballah fighters were killed while fulfilling their, “Jihad duties”.

Name: Hussein ‘Amar Yaghi

Death Announced: May 19, 2013

Notes: No photo was posted. Yaghi was part of an official Hizballah announcement stating a group of 12 Hizballah fighters were killed while fulfilling their, “Jihad duties”.

Name: Abu Saman Qasas

Death Announced: May 19, 2013

Notes: No photo was posted. Qasas was part of an official Hizballah announcement stating a group of 12 Hizballah fighters were killed while fulfilling their, “Jihad duties”.

Name: Muhammed Qasim Abd al-Sater

Death Announced: May 19, 2013

Notes: No photo was posted. Sater was part of an official Hizballah announcement stating a group of 12 Hizballah fighters were killed while fulfilling their, “Jihad duties”.

Name: Khalil Yusuf Mizhar (A.K.A. Haji Bilal)

Death Announced: May 20, 2013

Notes: The announcement for Mizhar’s death, along with two photos, were released within minutes of each other on Facebook and semi-official Hizballah websites (E.G. BintJbeil.org).

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Name: Ashraf Hasan ‘Ayyad

Death Announced: May 20, 2013

Notes: So far, the only photo of ‘Ayyad has been an official Hizballah martyrdom poster.

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Name: Musen Samir Birro (A.K.A. Hassan al-Jataba)

Death Announced: May 20, 2013

Notes: So far, the only photo of Birro has been an official Hizballah martyrdom poster. On pro-Hizballah Facebook pages, it was claimed Birro was killed “defending the Zaynab Shrine.”

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Name: Muhammed Husayn Barakat

Death Announced: May 20, 2013.

Notes: Barakat’s photograph (the first shown) was initially posted on pro-Hizballah Facebook pages.

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Name: Talal Kasim Jezzini (A.K.A. Abu Saleh)

Death Announced: May 20, 2013

Notes: Jezzini’s death was first reported on pro-Hizballah Facebook pages.

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9 Comments

  1. […] she was covering the death of Hassan Faysal Shuker, one of 12 dead Hezbollah members named by the organization during the height of the fighting in […]

  2. […] in the central Bekka Valley town of Nabi Chit. The day before, the town buried another fighter, Hassan Faysel Shaker (also spelled […]

  3. […] between 500-600 dead, Badran writes, leaving them with a depleted force of experienced fighters. Pictures of the Hezbollah members killed in Qusayr show that most of the dead are too young to have been of fighting age in 2006. Rather, […]

  4. […] funeral when she was covering the death of Hassan Faysal Shuker, one of 12 dead Hezbollah members named by the organization during the height of the fighting in […]

  5. […] base di queste fonti di Hezbollah e filo-Hezbollah ufficiali, ho contato un totale di  20 membri di Hezbollah  uccisi dal periodo dall’inizio del 18 maggio fino a metà giornata del 20 maggio. A causa […]

  6. […] serving with the group. Thus, announcements-of-death for Iraqi LAFA members were often mixed with large numbers of Lebanese Hizballah martyrdom […]

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