Hezbollah says it will remain in Syria
Pro-Syrian regime protesters, holding portraits of Syrian President Assad and a portrait of Lebanon's militant Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah. [AFP]
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Hezbollah Sunday vowed to carry on fighting in Syria alongside the Damascus regime while stressing that the party would work to limit the war’s repercussion on its supporters in Lebanon.
“We will continue our work and remain in the field committed to our political stances. We will remain fighting where we are fighting. We are a resistance wherever we are: a resistance against Israel and its agents and a resistance fighting in Syria in defense of the resistance,” Sheikh Naim Qassem, Hezbollah’s second in command, said during a ceremony in the Beirut suburb of Ouzai.
“Our heads will remain raised high, as we combat the takfiris and those behind them. We will be victorious in the end, wait and see,” he said.
A spate of deadly bombings targeting pro- Hezbollah areas of Beirut and the northeast has highlighted the growing impact of the Syria crisis on its tiny neighbor Lebanon. Most of the attacks, including suicide bombings, have been claimed by radical Syria rebel groups. They have vowed similar actions until Hezbollah withdraws its forces from Syria.
In May 2013, Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah acknowledged that his fighters were engaged in the Syrian war on the side of the Damascus regime. The Hezbollah leader said the aim was to preempt the rise of “Western-backed takfiri forces” which he said threatened Lebanon and his party.
During his speech, Qassem said suicide bombers were targeting two sides: “The resistance's environment with its children, men, women and neighborhoods, and the Lebanese Army, which is confronting their project.”
“This war they are waging against us requires sacrifices and we are working with all our might to lessen its repercussions and pains. In this war, there will be sacrifices but we should not be afraid to make them,” he said.
The Hezbollah official appealed to his party’s supporters whose livelihoods have been hit hard by the recurrent car bombings to remain firm in the face of the jihadist threat.
“If we show steadfastness, persistence and unity, we will be victorious in the end,” he said.
“Do not panic or be frightened of them or they will win,” he said. “If they travel the earth and back, they will never be the ones who grant us life or death ... trust in God and let's remain in the field and we will win, God willing.”
Qassem also dismissed allegations that Hezbollah’s actions in Syria were to blame for the jihadist entry to Lebanon, saying the radical groups had already been present in the country and the region.
"I wonder who brought them into Syria from 80 different countries and who brought them to Iraq to kill innocent people. Who sponsored Fatah al-Islam in Nahr Al-Bared refugee camp and in Dinnieh? They were already here,” he said.
He described the “takfiri project” as transient and said infighting between the radical groups in Syria reflected a general pattern of behavior.
While Qassem reiterated Hezbollah had been the last party to intervene in Syria, he accused his rivals in the March 14 coalition of harboring takfiri groups and urged them to desist.
“I wonder about this contradiction by those who oppose us. They support the takfiri criminals with all their atrocities in Syria but they claim to support the Syrian people. But these takfiris are killing the Syrian people,” he said.
“They defend those the Lebanese Army apprehends for transporting explosives and suicide bombers ... without considering the feelings of those who were targeted by the bombings,” he said.
“They obstruct the work of security agencies and claim to support the state. They condemn the bombings and justify [the attacks, arguing they] are a result of a behavior,” Qassem added.
The March 14 camp has blamed Hezbollah for the deadly attacks in the country, demanding that the party withdraw from Syria and spare Lebanon further repercussions.
“We ask March 14 group not to provide cover for the takfirirs or a secure environment or justify their acts,” Qassem said.
"We ask them to stop targeting the resistance, giving Israel a free service ... We ask them to return to the state and stop disrupting its institutions,” he said.