BEIRUT: Members of Lebanon’s Sunni sect should avoid areas where Hezbollah has a presence or enjoys support, the Nusra Front in Lebanon, a group of radical Syrian rebels that has claimed responsibility for bombings in the country, warned Friday.
“The Nusra Front in Lebanon announces that all the strongholds, headquarters and military and security bases of Iran’s party [Hezbollah] are targets, regardless of their locations,” said a statement posted on the group’s Twitter account.
“Hezbollah deliberately spreads in populated areas to protect itself from the blows of jihadists and as we are keen on preserving the blood of our Sunni people in Lebanon ... we call on Sunnis in Lebanon in general not to approach or reside in [Hezbollah] areas or come near [the party’s] headquarters and gathering places,” it said.
“Faithful Sunnis, help your sons the jihadists in their war against Iran’s party and its agents,” it added.
The Lebanon branch of the Nusra Front has claimed responsibility for several attacks in the country, including Tuesday’s deadly bombing in the Beirut southern suburb of Haret Hreik that killed four people and wounded scores more.
The group, an offshoot of Syria’s Nusra Front that is blacklisted by the United States as a terrorist group, has warned of further attacks until Hezbollah withdraws its fighters from Syria.
In May 2013, Hezbollah acknowledged it was fighting alongside forces loyal to President Bashar Assad against rebels seeking to end the Syrian leader’s more than two-decade reign.
Hezbollah says its Syria involvement serves to protect Lebanon from jihadists. But critics say its intervention next door has only prompted Hezbollah’s opponents to retaliate on Lebanese soil.