BEIRUT: Hezbollah officials downplayed threats posed by ISIS on Lebanon’s security Tuesday, arguing that the Lebanese Army and the party's armed resistance were capable of crushing the militants.
MP Mohammad Raad, who heads Hezbollah’s Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc in Parliament, said that ISIS was seeking to ignite sectarian strife in Lebanon by manipulating the issue of the captive security personnel.
“There is no need for fear at all. The Lebanese Army and the Resistance are very well capable of using the appropriate antidote with the monsters,” Raad said at a memorial ceremony for a Hezbollah member in south Lebanon’s village of Harouf.
Raad scorned any possible swap of Islamist prisoners for the Army and Internal Security Forces personnel held by ISIS and Nusra Front militants, arguing that “there should be no exchange involving detainees who have committed crimes, and detonated car bombs in our areas and neighborhoods, killing innocent women and children.”
"If ISIS is conspiring to sow strife and chaos between the components of the country, we should prevent it from achieving its goals by rejecting sedition," Raad said, stressing that Lebanon should be allowed to live safe and proud "without humiliation or making concessions to others."
At least 29 personnel went missing during last month’s clashes in Arsal between the Army and militants from ISIS and Nusra Front who have demanded that the government release Islamist detainees held in Roumieh Prison in exchange. The militants are believed to be still holding 22 captives after five were freed and two were decapitated at the hands of ISIS militants.
Speaking on ISIS, Hezbollah’s deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said that the militant group has reached its maximum and was already beginning to recede.
“Takfiri militants are a danger for humanity and Islam. The important thing is that we unite against them. All parties, regardless of their affiliations or interests, will have to confront this danger,” Qassem said at the conference of Muslim scholars in support of the Palestinian resistance, which convened in Tehran Tuesday.
Hezbollah’s number two blasted parties which seek to justify the action of takfiri militants, accusing them of complicity. “Those who find justification for the takfiri activists are their partners in a losing venture and enemies of Islam,” Qassem said in obvious allusion to Hezbollah’s political opponents, notably the Future Movement.