Syrian rebels give Hezbollah 48 hours to pack up and leave
The Syrian Free Army (FSA) has issued an ultimatum to Lebanese Hezbollah group to cease its operations in Syria or face attacks on its installations in South Lebanon.
FSA Chief of Staff Brigadier General Salim Idris told Al Arabiya that Hezbollah, a staunch ally of President Bashar al-Assad, has 48 hours to end its involvement in Syria or the Syrian opposition army will begin targeting its positions in Lebanon.
In October 2012, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged that party members had fought Syrian rebels but said they were acting as individuals and not under the party’s direction.
On Sunday, a Hezbollah official said clashes on the Syrian border killed three of the group’s members and five Syrian opposition fighters.
“Two Lebanese Shiites living in Syria were killed and at least 14 others wounded in clashes with rebels,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity, later adding that one of the wounded had also died.
Meanwhile, Hadi al-Abdallah of the Syrian Revolution General Commission told Reuters news agency that fighting broke out on Saturday after Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, who are in control of eight Syrian border villages, tried to expand their sphere by moving into three adjacent Sunni villages that were in the hands of the rebel Syrian Free Army.
“The Hezbollah force moved on foot and was supported by multiple rocket launchers. The Free Syrian Army had to call in two tanks that had been captured from the Assad army to repel the attack,” Abdallah said.
Shiite Muslim Hezbollah fighters based in the Bekaa Valley on the other side of the border, which is not demarcated, moved into the area last year. Four of the villages they had captured are inhabited by co-religionists while the other four villages are mixed with Sunni Muslim and Shiite residents.
Just hours before the clashes, the main bloc of the Syrian opposition accused the staunch Damascus ally of having intervened “militarily” on the side of the regime, and warned this posed a threat to ties between neighbors Syria and Lebanon.
The Syrian National Council said that Hezbollah members on Saturday attacked “three Syrian villages in the Qusayr region near the Lebanese border” with full knowledge of the regular army.