Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, Hezbollah has sought to distance itself from the turmoil in Syria, although there have been allegations that the group has sent fighters to help Assad's regime fight rebels. Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, has not publicly sanctioned any operations in support of Assad, and warned the mayhem in the neighboring country was out of the group's control.
TROOPS ON THE GROUND: Lebanon's 15-year civil war ended in 1990 with Syrian forces defeating opponents, controlling large parts of the country and installing allied governments in Beirut. Syrian forces moved into Lebanon in 1976 as peacekeepers after the country got engulfed in civil war between Christian and Muslim militias.
Syrians were drawn into the conflict, and clashed with the Israeli troops after the 1982 invasion aimed at driving out Palestinian guerrillas. In 2000, Bashar Assad became president of Syria, succeeding his late father, Hafez Assad. Israel withdrew from South Lebanon, increasing pressure on Syria to leave. Syrian troops pulled out five years later, after sweeping street protests following Hariri's assassination. Many in Lebanon and its Western-backers blamed Syria for the killing. Damascus has denied involvement.
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