BEIRUT: Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said Sunday that his party would continue fighting in Syria despite the wave of car bombings targeting predominantly Shiite areas in Lebanon controlled by the group.
“I will not repeat what I explained before about the reason we went to Syria and why we are staying where we should be,” Nasrallah said during a televised speech commemorating martyrs of the resistance.
Nasrallah warned that takfiri (extremist Sunni Muslim) forces pose a threat to the entire region and that all of Lebanon is a target.
“Lebanon is targeted by these takfiri groups and they would have come sooner or later regardless of our involvement in Syria,” Nasrallah said.
He also accused Israel and the United States of benefitting from takfiri plots in the region.
The Hezbollah chief, whose group has been fighting alongside the Assad regime troops in Syria, warned that if extremists gain control of war-torn Syria, the repurcussions would be felt throughout the Middle East.
“If these [takfiri groups] win in Syria, and God willing they will not, Syria will become worse than Afghanistan,” he said.
“If these armed groups win, will there be a future for the Future Movement in Lebanon? Will there be a chance for anyone other than [takfiris] in the country?”
Nasrallah vowed his group would emerge victorious in the battle against these groups.
“We are convinced that we will win in this battle; it is just a matter of time,” he said.
Nasrallah insisted the group's presence in Syria was worth all the sacrifices made by his fighters and supporters in Lebanon, and appealed to his followers to be patient.
“This blood and wounds and patience and perseverance are part of the battle, and yes, it is worth it so that we do not lose our land, so that our children are not slaughtered and our property stolen,” he said.
“It is normal that some martyrs should fall... they [our enemies] lie and tell us 'withdraw from Syria and we will leave you alone in Lebanon,' but if these [takfiri forces] gain control over border areas with Lebanon, we will see even more car bombings."
Nasrallah warned against exploiting the party’s interference in Syria to score points in internal political disputes. He also appealed to Palestinian factions to "prevent the exploitation" of Palestinians by groups fighting Hezbollah.
He said that some parties were trying to stoke hostilities between Palestinians living in refugee camps and their Shiite neighbors.
“I tell our Palestinian brothers, it is not enough to issue statements condemning bombings because there are some who are trying to exploit the Palestinians to achieve their goals,” he said.
Nasrallah's comments follow the arrest last week of Naim Abbas, a Palestinian and a leading figure in the Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which has claimed responsibility for several bombings in Lebanon.
Nasrallah also said that his group and its ally, the Amal Movement, were the ones who made “sacrifices” to allow the formation of a new government.
“The groups behind this great national achievement are the Amal Movement and Hezbollah. We were the ones who paved the way for the new government,” he said. “We did not gain anything personally, and we did not discuss which ministerial portfolios we were getting until the last minute.”
“Partnership is needed in Lebanon; we support having a state and we support partnership despite the disputes,” Nasrallah said.
“We never said we refuse to take part in a government that includes the Future Movement or the Kataeb or the Lebanese Forces."
“We are not going into the new government with intentions of [fostering] enmity and disputes, but with the intention of [supporting] dialogue and understanding," he said.