Hezbollah – Aziz Unit – the Elimination of the Unit Commander – Details and Significance

On July 3, 2024, at around 13:30, in the area of Al-Hush in the city of Tyre, southern Lebanon, Muhammad Naama Nasser (known as Hajj Abu Naama and Abu Ali Nasser), commander of Hezbollah’s Aziz unit, was eliminated. Another operative named Muhammad Khashab from the village of Al-Mansouri was killed along with him.

The Aziz Unit is one of Hezbollah’s three geographic units in southern Lebanon and is responsible for the western sector in southern Lebanon, from the Blue Line in the south to the Litani in the north (Hezbollah’s “first line of defense”), from the Bint Jabal governorate in the east to the coast in the west.

In Hezbollah’s first line of defense, alongside the Aziz unit, the Nasser unit is also deployed, whose commander was eliminated on June 11. The Nasser unit’s geographical responsibility is the eastern sector (the area of Bint Jabal governorate eastward), including Har Dov and up to the geographical border with the Bekaa Valley to the north.

The third unit is the Badr unit, whose geographical responsibility is for the area between the Litani River north and Sidon (the Second Line of Defense). It may also be responsible for a certain area of the coastline south of the Litani River.

The geographic units operating in southern Lebanon operate under the Southern Command Front under the command of Ali Karki, a member of Hezbollah’s Jihad Council (General Staff). Most of the operatives of the geographic units live in the geographical area for which they are responsible (“local residents”).  They have independent combat engineering capabilities, rocket operation (mainly short range), anti-tank, mortars, light anti-aircraft (shoulder-fired missiles), operation of drones and light UAVs, medical units (these are operatives of the Islamic Health Organization, which operates under the Executive Council, which are attached to these units), logistics and communications.

Muhammad Naama Nasser, commander of the Aziz unit who was eliminated, was born on May 6, 1965. He originated from the village of Hadatha in southern Lebanon. He joined Hezbollah in 1986, at the age of 21. He had extensive combat experience and participated in many operations against Israel in the security zone until 2000 and in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

From 2011 to 2016 he participated in Hezbollah activity in Syria and Iraq. He was also injured in 2015. He received many personal certificates of appreciation from Nasrallah for his contribution to Hezbollah.

In 2016, he took command of the Aziz unit, after its previous commander, Hassan Muhammad al-Haj (also known as Hajj Abu Mohammad al-Laklim), was killed in Syria. Hassan Muhammad al-Hajj “Hajj Abu Muhammad al-Iqlim”

The commander of the Aziz unit is Hezbollah’s third highest-ranking commander to be eliminated from the beginning of 2024. In addition to him, the acting commander of the Radwan unit (eliminated in January 2024) and the commander of the Nasser unit (June 2024) were eliminated.

The elimination of a senior unit commander is a blow to Hezbollah in general and to the unit he commanded in particular. Like the previous eliminations, the elimination of the commander of the Aziz unit is an important and significant elimination by virtue of his being a very central operational function of Hezbollah in the southern Lebanese arena and in the current fighting against Israel. Both the Aziz unit and the Nasser units are the most dominant units fighting against Israel.

Above: The two commanders eliminated – the commander of the Aziz unit (right) and the commander of the Nasser unit (left).

The eliminated commanders of the Radwan, Nasser, and Aziz units represent the highest level of command in Hezbollah beside the highest and most senior level of command – members of the Jihad Council, who are the level of Hezbollah’s military general staff. As previously stated, the leaders of the units that were eliminated represent the highest level of command for the forces immediately and intensively participating in the combat against Israel.

Should the elimination of additional unit commanders of similar ranks continue?

Absolutely. The elimination of the commanders of units involved in any way in the fighting against Israel is important and significant because they are a central operational function in Hezbollah’s activity and because they are experienced and professional knowledge centers. It should be remembered that in Hezbollah, unit commanders and senior officials do not change every few years. They actually fulfill their senior role for many years until they can no longer perform it for various reasons (natural death, elimination, health condition, etc.).

Beyond a certain operational harm, the elimination also has a symbolic-consciousness-psychological effect, which is sometimes no less important than the de facto operational harm. In a state of war, it is sometimes even more important, in that it also affects the operational function. The sense of infiltration and persecution caused to the enemy as a result of eliminations forces him to halt and investigate the location of the intelligence-security breach. This halt affects the operation, even if it is ostensibly not visible publicly.

On the other hand, everyone has a replacement. It should be remembered that the effort of eliminating unit commanders and senior commanders can only be a supportive effort. Ultimately, this is a tactical effort, which usually has no strategic implications. It is a terrorist army with functional continuity. You can see Hezbollah’s significant responses following the assassinations.

Is it necessary to increase this activity and upscale the rank of the eliminated?

An increase in the rank of the eliminated figures means harming members of Hezbollah’s Jihad Council. It is possible that harming them will constitute Hezbollah’s “excuse” it seeks (and in our assessment also wants) to start an all-out war against Israel. In addition, in our assessment, Hezbollah’s security unit severely restricts the movement of Jihad Council members in order to maintain their security and they are not physically present in southern Lebanon. That is, they are not within the “agreed-upon” geographical boundaries of the fighting. They are most likely in the Dahia area of Beirut, and if not there, then somewhere else challenging to attack.

On the other hand, there are two members of the Jihad Council who are directly connected to the current fighting and are conducting it. The first is Ibrahim Aqil, head of Hezbollah’s operations division, whose responsibility includes the Radwan unit and the aerial unit. The second is Ali Karki, commander of Hezbollah’s Southern Front, under which the geographic units in southern Lebanon operate (Nasser, Aziz and Badr).

In light of their roles, Ibrahim Aqil and Ali Karki are legitimate targets for preventive measures and should be defined as being “within the boundaries of the sector.” This is in light of their direct responsibility for Hezbollah’s activity in southern Lebanon against Israel. This definition will be reinforced if one of them is physically present for one reason or another in southern Lebanon. In such a case, given the operational opportunity, the need to eliminate one of them is clear and immediate.

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Tal Beeri

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