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Israel’s top military officer warned today that Hezbollah is more powerful than most of the world’s armies and that a confrontation between Israel and the Lebanese Shiite militant organization was a near certainty.
Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, head of Military Intelligence research, assessed in a presentation to the Herzliya Conference on Monday that of a total of some 120,000 men fighting the Assad regime, some 50,000 are Salafists who would like to see Islam implemented in the future Syria, belonging to groups like Al-Nusra Front. Approximately 30,000 support a more moderate political Islam, akin to the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. The number of global jihadists, members of organizations such as ISIS, is around 15,000, or 13 percent of the fighting body. Only 20 percent of Syria’s fighters, Brun estimated, could be categorized as “secular.”
ISW assesses that these incidents constitute a concerted counter-offensive by ISIS. The attempt to seize the al-Askari mosque represents an important symbolic as well as practical effort. Additional attempts to seize neighborhoods, infrastructure, and facilities are likely, as are additional VBIED waves. ISW will continue to monitor ISIS activity and the ISF’s response.