Sunni leader says Hezbollah leading Lebanon into 'Syrian fire'

BEIRUT Sat Aug 17, 2013 12:33pm EDT

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah makes a rare public appearance as he addresses his supporters during a rally to mark Quds (Jerusalem) Day in Beirut's southern suburbs, August 2, 2013. REUTERS/Sharif Karim

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah makes a rare public appearance as he addresses his supporters during a rally to mark Quds (Jerusalem) Day in Beirut's southern suburbs, August 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Sharif Karim

Related Topics

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's leading Sunni Muslim politician Saad al-Hariri accused Hezbollah on Saturday of dragging the country deeper into Syria's civil war after the Shi'ite militant group's leader said he was ready to go to Syria himself to fight.

Hariri, a former prime minister, was responding to a speech by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah who said that a car bomb in Shi'ite southern Beirut would only redouble the group's military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"(Nasrallah's) speech takes Lebanon into deeper involvement in the Syrian fire," Hariri tweeted. "It's a pity to squander the blood of the Lebanese in such a way".

The death toll from Thursday's car bomb, already the deadliest attack in Beirut since the 1975-1990 civil war, rose to 27 on Saturday when the body of a six-year-old boy was found in the damaged ground floor of a nearby building.

Hariri's father Rafik al-Hariri, who also served as prime minister several times, was killed along with 21 others in a 2005 bombing. A U.N.-backed tribunal has indicted four Hezbollah members over the killing.

"What happened (on Thursday) was an ugly crime, but Hezbollah's war in Syria is crime as well," Hariri said, criticizing Nasrallah for calling for restraint at home while reinforcing his commitment to the battle in Syria which has polarized Lebanon and sharply raised sectarian tensions.

Most Sunni Muslim Lebanese support the rebels battling to overthrow Assad, whose Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam. Many Shi'ite Lebanese support Assad and Hezbollah's support in the neighboring country has grown from a political to a full military role.

Hezbollah guerrillas led Assad's fight to recapture the Syrian border town of Qusair in June from mainly Sunni rebels, and have also fought in the city of Homs and near the Shi'ite shrine of Sayyida Zeinab south-east of Damascus.

Nasrallah said on Friday the Syrian war was a battle against radical Sunni "takfiri" groups, who he also blamed for Thursday's bomb.

Many Sunni jihadi fighters from Lebanon and other Arab countries have joined the fight against Assad, and some have threatened retaliation in Lebanon unless Hezbollah withdraws from Syria.

The two-year conflict has killed 100,000 people inside Syria and the violence has spread across the Lebanese border, with rocket attacks in the Bekaa Valley, street fighting in the Mediterranean cities of Sidon and Tripoli, and bombs in Beirut.

(Reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (3)
nose2066 wrote:
So this is turning into yet another religious war between Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims? Does all this in-fighting make the West any safer? Or do the more extremists parts of the Sunni Muslim Al-Quaeda organization get disgusted with the Sunni leadership and decide to do their own attacks against the West?

Aug 17, 2013 1:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Doc62 wrote:
Nasrallah is an stupid idiot. He cannot see the toll of civil war in Lebanon.
nose2066, The Opposite is true. The West & Israel will enjoy that they are too busy killing each other to focus on us. The “Ackmeds” are pouring into this war like “flies to feces”. The skies are quiet over Sderot.

Aug 17, 2013 1:56pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Still22 wrote:
Stay out of it and let ‘em fight. They need to get it out of their system – until the last two fighters standing if necessary. Perhaps they will grow weary of killing each other eventually… perhaps not.

Aug 17, 2013 2:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.