BEIRUT: The Nusra Front in Lebanon, an offshoot of a Syrian rebel group, reiterated calls Sunday for members of the Sunni sect in Lebanon to defect from the Lebanese Army, accusing the military establishment of targeting Sunnis and serving Iranian interests.“People of Akkar ... live up to the expectations of all Muslims. This call is addressed to you and to every Muslim eager to defend his religion: We urge you to dedicate all your efforts to defect from this oppressive Army,” said a statement by the group posted on its Twitter account.
Many residents of Akkar, a predominantly Sunni governorate in north Lebanon, are members of the Lebanese Army.
The statement said that the Lebanese Army demonstrated its courage only against Sunnis in Lebanon under the pretext of being the guarantor of the Lebanese people, but accused it of actually standing for Iranian designs for the region.
“If you take a look at prison inmates, you can determine that they are all Sunnis arrested under false accusations,” the statement said. “Does anyone detain a Shiite for fighting in Syria?”
The Lebanese government officially adopted a policy of disassociation, to distance it from the civil war in neighboring Syria. But Hezbollah acknowledged in May 2013 of sending fighters to back forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.
The Nusra Front in Lebanon added that there were some Shiite members of the Army fighting in Syria. “ Sunnis of Lebanon, do you accept that Shiite cities be guarded with your sons [who are members of the Lebanese Army] while their [Shiites’] young men go to fight your brothers in Syria?” the group said.
Separately, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades apologized late Friday for the civilian casualties caused by the bombings for which it claimed responsibility last month, saying its military operations were solely aimed at Hezbollah and its major backer Iran.
The brigade has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Lebanon, including the Feb. 19 attack on the Iranian Cultural Center in Beirut that killed 11 people – none of which were Iranians – citing Hezbollah’s military role in neighboring Syria.
Referring to the Feb. 19 attack, the group said there had been a “technical fault” in the second of the two bombs used in the operation.
“The two bombs were meant to be in a place where the explosion would not reach the main road and cause damage to passersby.”
It said its military operations were directed solely at Hezbollah.
“The military operations of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades do not target regular Shiites, or members of other sects,” the group said. “We stress to our suicide bombers to be careful and to abort operations if they believe others than those targeted will be killed.”
“We confirm to the Sunnis in Lebanon, and other sects, that our war is against Hezbollah and our targets are the party’s interests and military, political and security positions both inside and outside Lebanon,” the group said. “Such targets are legitimate,” it added.