BEIRUT: Hezbollah will uphold its unwavering support to Syria in the face of U.S. and Israeli attempts to target the “resistance axis,” the party’s deputy head announced Monday, warning his rivals against eliminating the resistance formula in Lebanon.
“Syria, given its status in the resistance axis, faces the axis of the great Satan [United States] and its pet Israel and what is happening in Syria is a confrontation between the resistance axis and the U.S./Israeli axis,” Sheikh Naim Qassem said during a conference at the Mariotte Hotel in Beirut.
“They seek aggression against the resistance axis through Syria in order to destroy Syria's capabilities and people, marginalize its role, weaken the resistance and relieve Israel,” he added.
The theme of the conference centered on opposition to any U.S. aggression against Syria.
The Hezbollah official said he opposed military or foreign intervention to end the crisis in Lebanon’s neighbor, warning that such action would “destroy everything and complicate matters further.”
“For the past two years and a half, we have seen money and weapons supplies; the deployment of fighters from 80 states; Arab, regional and international stances seeking change by force in Syria; U.S. threats,” he said.
“This systematic destruction of Syria is a sin but we are with the resilient Syrian people who face foreign challenges conspiring against their future,” Qassem added.
He also echoed Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s claim that Hezbollah had been a late comer to the Syrian battlefield.
In May 2013, Nasrallah announced his party was militarily involved in the Syrian conflict on the side of President Bashar Assad.
“The U.S./Israeli axis began its aggression to change Syria's role and position and so the resistance axis supported it after a long period of foreign intervention in Syria,” Qassem said.
“No, No. Syria, as a people and leadership, will survive and we are with regardless of the circumstances so that it can withstand and come out of this crisis,” he said.
Qassem said Hezbollah, which has come under heavy criticism over its military engagement in Syria, was “proud to be in the axis that includes Iran, Syria, and the resistance groups in Lebanon and Palestine.”
“We will remain on this course,” he added.
“We have already announced that we are with Syria, the resistant, and against moving [Syria] toward the aggressor’s axis,” he said.
The Hezbollah official, who is second in command after Nasrallah, also blasted Gulf countries and some local figures for supporting a U.S. strike on Syria.
President Barack Obama has suspended his call on Congress to vote on a U.S.-led military strike against Syria over Damascus’ alleged use of chemical arms after Russia proposed a plan that would see the destruction of the banned weapons.
“What a shame and a disgrace for oil officials and [former] Prime Minister [Fouad] Siniora to ask their master, Obama, to assault and devastate Syria. Don't you have mercy in your hearts for the oppressed Syrian people?” he asked.
Siniora has been a supporter of the uprising in Syria and in a recent opinion piece for Foreign Policy magazine urged the U.S. to do more to end the crisis there. The former prime minster said his words have been misinterpreted as part of media campaign by pro-Hezbollah media outlets.
Qassem challenged his rivals to support a military attack against Israel for Palestine’s sake, adding that Hezbollah would never “surrender” in its battle with the Jewish state.
“If you don't want to adopt military approaches because you believe in civil movements then why are you interfering in Syria?” he asked.
“If you fear reactions when you confront Israel, then surrender alone but don't help Israel. We will never surrender,” he said.
Qassem also touched on the recent controversy surrounding the tripartite formula of the “Army, people and resistance,” which Hezbollah argues is the only means to defend Lebanon against Israeli aggression.
The March 14 coalition insists on excluding the formula from the ministerial statement of any future Cabinet as opposed to previous governments.
“The formula of the Army, the people and the resistance was baptized in blood and sacrifices and it is the reason for the rise of an independent Lebanon and we do not want anyone's approval,” he said.
“Whoever wants to eliminate it, they want to rip our souls out but humiliation is far from us. They should try their luck if they wanted to [eliminate the formula],” he added.