BEIRUT: The Nusra Front warned Lebanon's Christians Sunday that the Free Patriotic Movement leader, MP Michel Aoun, was leading the sect into war with Sunnis with the aim of becoming president.
“He seeks to drag you into war with the Sunni people,” the Al-Qaeda affiliate said, referring to Aoun. “This is why we are calling on the wise men among you to put out the flame of a war, to which the Free Patriotic Movement and its leader want to drive you.”
Published on the Twitter account of Nusra’s Qalamoun branch, the statement said Aoun’s only aspiration was to reach presidency, “even if for one hour only.”
“He will involve you in a war that you reject, in an attempt to achieve his objectives and satisfy his instincts by arriving to the presidential chair,” the group said, “even if at the expense of your people’s blood.”
The group said that Hezbollah, an Aoun ally, had succeeded in “dividing Christian lines” and leading some of them to the battlefield.
The statement said Aoun’s support of Hezbollah was blocking the release of the Christians among the Lebanese security troops that Nusra abducted during the clashes in Arsal with the Lebanese Army earlier this month.
“He has deprived through his latest acts some of your people from leaving abduction and returning to you, by doing what his master, the real ruler in Lebanon, Iran’s party leader, has told him to do,” the statement said.
The Turkish Anadolu news agency reported that a Nusra leader had said the Christian troops would be released but later went back on his words and said: “We will not release the Christian soldiers unless their people disown Hezbollah and apologize for burning the unification flag in Ashrafieh.”
On Saturday, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi released a statement that said: “This morning, some people burned the flag of ISIS in Sassine Square and their symbol reads: ‘No God but Allah and Mohammad the prophet of Allah,’ which is the cornerstone of Islam.”
Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi slammed the burning of the flags, saying “this symbol has nothing to do with ISIS and its terrorist approach.”
Rifi asked the state prosecutor Samir Hammoud to pursue and prosecute the perpetrators given that burning the flag desecrated religious symbols and could, he argued, incite sectarian strife.
In response, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, a member of the FPM, announced that he would represent the young men in court if the prosecutor took action.