Sunday, March 1, 2015

ISIS vs Hezbollah in numbers

[Originally posted at NOW, with infographic]

The jihadist paramilitary group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which declared itself ruler of its own state in June after expanding its eastern Syrian stronghold into western Iraq, was described in August by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as "beyond just a terrorist group […] beyond anything that we've seen." Below, NOW puts this judgment in context by comparing ISIS's vital statistics to those of another formidable Islamist militia; Lebanon's Hezbollah.

As the data show, ISIS is believed to have more fighters than Hezbollah, and to enjoy more abundant finances. This is in part a result of the vast territory it controls – perhaps 10 times as much as Hezbollah does – in which over half a dozen lucrative oil fields are at its disposal.

On the other hand, Hezbollah has a much wider geographical reach, believed to be operating – whether militarily or financially – in over 45 countries. It is also more battle-hardened, having fought up to seven conventional armies in its three decades of existence. Moreover, while it controls less territory than ISIS, it is nonetheless "important to remember," said analyst Phillip Smyth, that the areas it does hold are of great "strategic" significance.

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