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Hezbollah shifts attention from Syria fight to battle virus

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Hezbollah shifts attention from Syria fight to battle virus

3 Photos In this Friday, March 27, 2020 photo, members of the Islamic Health Society, an arm of the Iran-backed militant Hezbollah group prepare to spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus, in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon. Hezbollah has mobilized the organizational might it once deployed to fight Israel or in Syria’s civil war to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus. It aims to send a clear message to its Shiite supporters that it is a force to rely on in times of crisis — particularly after it suffered a series of blows to its prestige. Opponents angrily accuse Hezbollah of helping bring the outbreak to Lebanon, saying it delayed a halt of flights from Iran for weeks after a woman who had just arrived from Iran emerged as Lebanon’s first confirmed coronavirus case. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein) Photo Gallery BEIRUT — In the streets of Beirut’s southern suburbs, Hezbollah paramedics and volunteers on trucks and on foot sprayed disinfectants on shops and buildings. At a hospital where it once treated its wounded fighters, the group’s medical staff set up beds for a center to deal with coronavirus patients.

Hezbollah says it is turning the organizational might it once deployed to fight Israel or in the civil war in neighboring Syria to battle the spread of the virus pandemic in Lebanon.

It wants to send a clear message to its supporters in Lebanon’s Shiite community that it is a force to rely on in a crisis. The Iranian-backed guerrilla group and political powerhouse is under pressure to send that message after a series of blows to its prestige.

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