For første gang i sin officielle eksistens siden1985 har Libanons Hezbollah nu kollideret på slagmarken med den tyrkiske hær, en af ​​NATO's stærkeste. Dette ansigt til ansigt sammenstød mellem Hezbollah og det tyrkiske militær fandt sted i det landlige område af Idlib, hvor snesevis af tyrkiske soldater mistede deres liv, mens de kæmpede side om side med jihadister og udenlandske krigere af forskellige nationaliteter, herunder al-Qaida medlemmer. Den tyrkiske-NATO-hær brugte lignende våben og taktikker som Israel. De overraskede Hezbollah ved at bruge væbnede droner og præcisionsbomber bag frontlinjen, dræbte ni militante og sårede 65 i et enkelt angreb. Så mange Hezbollah-militante blev dræbt et sted på grund af sammenbruddet af hele bygningen, de samlet under, beliggende bag hovedmarkens linje.

En anden faktor var den uventede tilbagetrækning af russisk luftdækning i det øjeblik Tyrkiet sendte sine ubemandede kampflyvogne (UCAVs) (eller ubemandet luftfartssystem (UAV) bedre kendt som væbnede droner) dybt inde i landet og bombede Iran og dets allierede for første gang. Denne konfrontation har introduceret en ny militærdoktrin for Hezbollah-militante og har lært dem nye lektioner baseret på erfaringer, som Hezbollah aldrig er blevet konfronteret med før. Tyrkiet brugte sine UCAV'er, TRG-122 satellitstyrede raketter, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) og jordangreb fra den tyrkiske hær, der kæmpede sammen med jihadister. Det er mest sandsynligt, hvad Israel har truet Hezbollah med i tilfælde af krig.

Derudover har Israels bekymring over den fremragende Hezbollah-nattesituationskapacitet på Saraqed en dobbeltkant, præciseringsevne og en procedure, som Hezbollah med succes kan udføre mod Israel i tilfælde af krig - og dermed udløse bekymring i Israel. Faktisk udtrykker Israel i stigende grad bekymring over trusselniveauet, der udgøres af Hezbollahs 'al-Radwan' elitestyrke spredt langs Libanons grænser. Kunne Israel planlægge et lignende hurtigt angreb mod Hezbollahs styrker?

A source within the "Axis of the Resistance" said "during the last war in 2006, Israeli drones covered the sky of Lebanon, providing intelligence information to the Israeli base controller who forwarded the instructions to the F-16s to bomb selective targets. Today we are facing armed drones which can instantly bomb any target considered hostile, without losing precious time or jeopardising the life of the pilot on board of an F-16 when within range of any anti-air missile system Hezbollah could have acquired."

According to sources within the "Axis of the Resistance", Israel could "attack Hezbollah's special forces to destroy this capability deployed along the borders. Israel is aware of the presence of a reserve force of several thousands of Hezbollah Special Forces who regularly rotate after serving in Syria - where they have survived one of the fiercest wars any army could face. Israel would also like to destroy all fortifications and tunnels spread along the borders without necessarily destroying the Lebanese infrastructure to avoid triggering an all-out-war. Therefore, in Israel's mind, it may be amplifying Hezbollah's threat to hit it and probably not to praise its performance! Israel is used to campaigning against a specific target or threat long before any attack, to justify its action, notwithstanding the irrelevance of international law in the eyes of Israel and its US ally."

When the US wanted to invade Iraq, Saddam Hussein was suddenly manufacturing Weapons of Mass Destruction and leading the fifth strongest army in the world. The US destroyed the Iraqi army in days, but US media amplified Saddam's threat to justify the invasion.

In Syria, Israel is portraying Hezbollah as fighting day and night and having equipped every single one of its militants with the most sophisticated weapons and night vision equipment. Israel is talking about Hezbollah's increasing missile capability and the danger its Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah represents. This is similar to the campaign carried out for several months against Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani prior to his assassination.

That doesn't mean Hezbollah is not equipped with tens of thousands of rockets and missiles, and that its Special Forces are not very well trained. It is true that this elite force has gathered a unique experience in the nine years of war in Syria. However, Hezbollah has never initiated a war and will not look to trigger it, though it will not shirk if war is imposed. Hezbollah does not represent a danger to Israel unless it is attacked.

Israel has been threatening Hezbollah with an unprecedented kind of war; the kind of war Hezbollah has been recently exposed to in Idlib. Confronting a NATO army was an unprecedented experience which has taught Hezbollah a lot.

The first lesson learned was the use of mobile phones and the race to post on social media. Hezbollah has a directive similar to that of Israel and most armies around the world to avoid taking mobile phones on the front line. In the last years, Hezbollah leadership failed to impose on all its members the prohibition on mobile phones in Syria, notwithstanding many directives. Sending photos from the frontline is tempting for young Special Forces Hezbollah members to counter misinformation campaigns that the jihadists and rebels perfected.

During the recent battle of Idlib, Hezbollah held its ground and kept control of the eastern part of Saraqeb when the Syrian army pulled back behind its lines following the attack of thousands of jihadists. The Turkish army planned a push towards Talhiya to create a hole in the front and reach al-Hader via Tel el-Eiss. Hezbollah's mobile phone usage helped Turkey identify the location of Hezbollah's gathering forces and bomb the Radwan Special Force, killing nine and wounding 66 out of a total of 120, using Turkish drones. The remaining force was able to stop the advance when Fatimiyoun and Zeinabiyoun allies (who also suffered 21 killed) joined them in repelling the attack.

The counter-attack to recover Saraqeb was the most spectacular attack Hezbollah has carried out in 9 years of war. The attack took place at night when more time is needed to perform tasks and yet, in a few hours, the entire city of Saraqeb was liberated.

Israel was surprised how Hezbollah Special Forces attacked at night an entrenched enemy taking their positions in fixed and defendable locations around and within the city. Night fighting without previous reconnaissance and rehearsals is not within the capability of many armies. The dissemination of orders at night, avoiding killing their own men with "friendly fire" when attacking jihadists from different sides of the city, was not an easy task.

Attacking at night reduced the odds of hitting civilians in urban fighting in a city that has become a frontline. Hezbollah Special Forces relied on their navigational skill to find their way within jihadist positions and to clear the path without there being much night vision equipment around. When fighting at night, the jihadists were shooting in all directions and was not until the first morning hours that the jihadists realised the difficult situation they were in and started to pull out.

Hezbollah showed concern for every member of the Special Forces and yet carried out the night attack with new reinforcements arriving the night of the attack with little time available for briefing and familiarisation with the city. Russia was watching the advance of Hezbollah forces and supported it with 27 air attacks to help clear the way.

Fighting jihadists led and instructed by an intelligent NATO army, Turkey, offered the opportunity for Hezbollah to learn and acquire new experiences on the Syrian battlefront. It was a live training exercise, simulating the new capabilities of the Israeli army and exploring the best way to hunt down armed drones and find adequate measures to avoid these deadly machines.

The recovery of Saraqeb was a unique school for Hezbollah: Israel cannot ignore the high performance of this quasi-state actor with an irregular but organised and a well-trained army. Tel Aviv can no longer surprise Hezbollah in the next war because it has failed to limit its military knowledge and its warfare capabilities. Hezbollah has many armed drones, tens of thousands of missiles and rockets and is capable of fighting in all weather and day-night conditions. It can take the initiative and counter-attack rather than limit itself to defence as it has done in all Israeli wars on Lebanon.

Hezbollah Special Forces showed on video how, from the battlefield, they film themselves laughing just before their death. Not because they look for a reason to die. On the contrary, extra precautions are taken to limit casualties. But if confronted with death, they leave a video trace of their spirit during the last seconds. Israeli threats against Hezbollah would certainly not shake their morale. The solution is straightforward for the Israeli officials: don't try a war, even if the objectives are limited.
Elijah J. Magnier

Veteran War Zone Correspondent and Senior Political Risk Analyst with over 35 years' experience covering the Middle East and acquiring in-depth experience, robust contacts and political knowledge in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Specialised in terrorism and counter-terrorism, intelligence, political assessments, strategic planning and thorough insight in political networks in the region. Covered on the ground the Israeli invasion to Lebanon (1st war 1982), the Iraq-Iran war, the Lebanese civil war, the Gulf war (1991), the war in the former Yugoslavia (1992-1996), the US invasion to Iraq (2003 to date), the second war in Lebanon (2006), the war in Libya and Syria (2011 to date). Lived for many years in Lebanon, Bosnia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria.