Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hezbollah Leader Admits His Fighters Involved in Combat in Iraq


BEIRUT – The leader of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said on Monday for the first time that members of his organization, who are fighting alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, are also engaged in combat in Iraq.

In a speech delivered Monday on a gigantic screen in a southern Beirut, the Shiite leader said that Hezbollah is maintaining a “limited presence” in Iraq since that country is going through a “sensitive phase.”

Nasrallah thus responded to criticism from former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Saturday that Hezbollah was interfering in the affairs of other countries, an allusion to the group’s activities in Syria.

“Let’s go together to Syria,” urged Nasrallah to those who are asking him to withdraw his combatants from the Syrian conflict.

Iran and Hezbollah are two of the main allies of the Syrian regime, and they have both sent fighters to support that country’s army in the civil war there.

The IS and the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front, both of which are Sunni groups, control large zones in Syria, and the IS is also present in Libya, where it recently claimed to have beheaded 21 Egyptian Christian hostages.

In his speech, Nasrallah said that “he who wants to decide the fate of Lebanon has to be present in the region” and deal with the jihadist threat that, he added, only serves the interests of Israel and the United States.

The Hezbollah chief warned that the danger posed by the radical Islamic State affects all the countries in the region.

“In the face of that enormous terrorist threat, we urge unity among the Arab peoples and countries. We’re capable of destroying the Islamic State,” he added.

He also said that “it’s necessary to undertake this political and military battle against terrorism to defend true Islam and not one community in particular.”


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