Hezbollah is suffering dramatic losses in fighting in Syria, particularly around the key rebel-held town of Yabroud, in the Qalamoun Mountains, Lebanese newspaper Daily Star has reported.
While the Lebanon-based Hezbollah announced the death of 15 of its fighters so far in March in the Yabroud area bordering Lebanon, an opposition group announced that its losses were as high as 120.
"More than 120 fighters from Hezbollah were killed in clashes around Yarboud city," where government forces are attempting to retake the area from rebels, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.
Funerals for the fallen Hezbollah fighters are held regularly in various parts of Lebanon, including the Bekaa Valley, the Beirut southern suburbs and south Lebanon.
Facebook pages and websites affiliated with Hezbollah have been flooded with photos of the mostly young dead fighters, with relatives and supporters praising their “martyrdom.” One Facebook page has posted sentences from a letter written by Hezbollah fighter Mohammad Baqer Jaber to his mother before his death.
“My wish is that you embrace me during the last moments of my life, but what relieves me is the fact that I know you will embrace me when I am in my shroud,” said the letter, posted above a photo of Jaber.
“May God help the hearts of mothers who are losing angels that were born to live in the eternal world only,” a woman commented below the post.
Numerous videos posted on YouTube depict Hezbollah gunmen engaged in fierce battles with Syrian rebels in Yabroud. In one of the videos, Hezbollah fighters ask a wounded gunman from the Syrian opposition where the dead bodies of their fellow fighters are located.
Yabroud is the last town granting Syrian rebels access into east Lebanon. Many of the rigged cars that have exploded in Lebanese areas associated with Hezbollah were believed to have been loaded with explosives in Yabroud.
A source close to Hezbollah, who requested to remain anonymous, told The Daily Star that around 500 Hezbollah fighters had been killed since the party joined the civil war in Lebanon’s neighbor over a year ago to bolster the forces of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.
A website close to the party said that up until March 7, Hezbollah had lost 40 fighters in one month of fierce battles in Yabroud.
Hezbollah also acknowledged it was sending fighters to a Damascus suburb to protect the Shrine of Sayyida Zeinab, the granddaughter of Prophet Mohammad, from attacks by Syrian rebels. Sayyida Zeinab is revered by Muslims, particularly Shiites.