BEIRUT: Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah boasted Tuesday that his party had the upper hand against Islamists in Syria, while warning Israel that the resistance was ready for any conflict on Lebanon's southern border.
Addressing a crowd of tens of thousands commemorating Ashoura in Beirut’s southern suburbs, Nasrallah once again sought to defend Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syrian civil war.
“The goal of the takfiris was to control Syria and eliminate all communities of other religions and Muslim sects and even those in the Sunni community who do not agree with their viewpoint,” the secretary-general said. “Syria was waiting to face what is happening from massacres in Mosul and Anbar ... As we enter the fourth year of the Syrian conflict, the takfiris have not yet been able to control Syria.”
“Many Syrians remain safe in their villages. Isn’t that a great victory, a great achievement?”
Hezbollah's intervention in the Syrian war, which started as peaceful protests in March 2011 but has turned into an armed rebellion that has killed nearly 200,000 people after a brutal crackdown by the regime, has sparked criticism from many Lebanese, who accuse Nasrallah of dragging Lebanon into the war.
The spillover from the Syrian war has grown from sporadic car bombings targeting Shiite neighborhoods in the country to an attempted invasion of northeast Lebanon by Nusra Front and ISIS since Nasrallah announced his party was fighting alongside regime troops in May of 2013.
Nasrallah said his party was proud to fight alongside the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying the Syrians “are the original fighters, we are an addition.”
The Hezbollah leader denied what he said were rumors circulated by local media outlets that the party was suffering heavy blows in Syria battles, particularly in Qalamoun, a mountainous region bordering Lebanon.
“Every single day, we are hearing that Hezbollah will retreat,” he said. But “the situation is excellent in the Qalamoun. For months, the militants are fighting to regain control over a single village from the Syrian army and its allies, but they’re failing.”
Nasrallah reiterated that what is happening in Syria was a “great victory so that the region would not fall in the hands of the [militants].”
“We are part of this battle waged to confront the biggest danger facing the region today,” he said.
Nasrallah, who addressed the crowd by video after making a rare in-person appearance in the capital’s suburbs the previous evening, said Israel should fear Hezbollah in a future rockets.
“Israelis are saying in the media that they would have to close down Ben Gurion Airport and the Haifa port and yes, that’s true,” Nasrallah, standing behind a white podium dressed in black, said.
“You should close all of your airports and your ports because there is no place extending on the land of occupied Palestine that the resistance’s rockets cannot reach.”
He said Israel knew very well that Hezbollah was never distracted from watching Lebanon’s southern border contrary to what he said were Lebanese and Arab media reports that the Syrian conflict had exhausted the party’s capabilities.
“They [Israel] know that going to war with the resistance will be very costly because we are more determined, stronger, more experienced ... and we are capable of achieving such accomplishments.”
Nasrallah also touched on the recent clashes in occupied Jerusalem and subsequent incidents preventing Muslims from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, calling on Arabs to take a “historic, serious stance.”
“There is a real, new danger against the mosque and it is the responsibility of Muslims worldwide to prevent such a catastrophe because it is a shame for Muslims to accept such disgrace to take place at the mosque,” he said.
“Conflicts in the region should not preoccupy the Muslim community from what is threatening Al-Aqsa Mosque."