The group has been added to the UK’s terrorist list, but after Assad’s victory in Syria it plays a powerful role in the region

At the back of a room full of marble-covered graves, a woman nods gently as she reads to her dead son. Another mother puts a candle inside a small lantern on top of a tomb. Both wear black chadors, and neither says anything above a whisper. Here the secrets of dead are laid bare in inscriptions; where and when the men were killed, and whom they were fighting for: the most formidable group in Lebanon, Hezbollah.

Between the women, an arched wreath covers three graves to which a trickle of visitors is drawn.Life-size photos of three men stand behind them, with a picture of the only woman buried there, the mother of perhaps the militant group’s most revered figure, its former military chief, Imad Mughniyeh. At times during the last two turbulent decades, the Martyrs’ Cemetery on the edge of Beirut’s southern suburbs has heaved with anger as the dead have arrived from battlefields. But last week an air of calm hung over the graveyard, just as it has for many months in Hezbollah’s surrounding heartland, where after seven polarising years of war in Syria, many residents sense the dawn of a new – but no less foreboding – era.

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