December 11, 2017 / 2:37 PM / 4 months ago

Hezbollah's Nasrallah says group to focus on Israel

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, on Monday said the group and its allies in the region would renew their focus on the Palestinian cause after what he called their victories elsewhere in the region.

Nasrallah called on Hezbollah’s allies to put in place a united strategy “in the field” to confront Israel. The Iran-backed group has been fighting Islamic State in Syria alongside regional allies and the group has been largely defeated.

Nasrallah was speaking by video link to a large protest in Beirut over the United States decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy there.

On Saturday a video was released of the commander of an Iraqi Shi’ite militia allied to Hezbollah visiting Lebanon’s border with Israel, apparently accompanied by a Hezbollah commander.

Nasrallah said in June that any future war waged by Israel against Lebanon or Syria could draw in fighters from countries including Iran and Iraq.

On Monday he repeated a call he made last week for a new Palestinian uprising against Israel and called on Arab states to abandon the peace process, describing negotiations with the United States as futile.

“Today the axis of resistance, including Hezbollah, will return as its most important priority ... Jerusalem and Palestine and the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance in all its factions,” he said.

Hezbollah was formed in the 1980s as a resistance movement against Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon and they remain bitter enemies.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a brief war in 2006 and tensions rose again this year as Israel struck Hezbollah arms stores and convoys in Syria.

Reporting By Laila Bassam and Angus McDowall; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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