BEIRUT: Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah began a televised memorial speech Sunday afternoon, shown at a ceremony in the Bekaa Valley's Al-Ain to mark one week since the deaths of two party fighters.
After offering condolences to the families of Ali al-Asheq and Mohammad Nasreddine, Nasrallah said: "[Nasreddine] chose this path and voluntarily chose the road to martyrdom."
"We have dozens of martyrs who are the only children in their families," he added. But he said that the party does not accept any only child who volunteers unless written consent is given by both parents.
"We ask them for a written approval ... and I used to ask those around me to check and make sure that they [the families] indeed approved," Nasrallah said.
“Recently, I told [commanders] to stop taking any only child to the front [lines], even with the approval of their parents.”
"In one of the letters that I have from the mother of one of the men who was prevented from going to the front – he was an only child – she said that I was preventing her son from fighting to defend 'Zeinab.'"
"There are cases in which the mother is widowed and [the boy] is an only son with sisters who need him and it is the mother who asks him to go."
He went on: "The rumor is that the parents are scared of Hezbollah and the issue [of new fighters] becomes more of an enforced conscription."
"For all of those who are planning to confront this, the mothers, fathers and wives are the sources of our strength."
"When I know that someone less than 18 years old dies on the front, I open an investigation into the matter. But you see that when someone less than 18 years old dies, we are criticized. When we open an investigation, it turns out that this boy went to the front using a wasta [influence]. What makes these relatives and parents offer their children in this manner?"
Turning to speak about Asheq, also known as Hajj Abbas, from the town of Al-Ain, Nasrallah said he had fought most of his life on the southern border front.
"Since the beginning of his youth, he joined the resistance. He paved his way until employed in the role he was in at the time of his death."
"He played a big part in the 2000 liberation and was designated as one of the commanders of the 2000 liberation [of south Lebanon from Israel]."
"After 2000, he continued the job and responsibilities and he was one of the resistance's leaders in the 2006 [war with Israel]. Hence, he was one of the field commanders that created the 2006 victory."
"After things developed in the region and the takfiri terrorism emerged, in the northeastern Lebanese border, in this battle he was there. Starting from the Qusair battle, Qalamoun, Zabadani and Aleppo, which changed the course of things in Syria, to the outskirts of Arsal and the final Qalamoun battles, he was also there."
"When we talk about the second liberation [in Ras Baalbeck and al-Qaa], Asheq was one of the main field commanders of this liberation."
"When the residents of the Bekaa Valley slept at night, Hajj Abbas’s eyes remained open. The security and calm in these areas is because of commanders such as Asheq and Nasreddine."
"The most important characteristic in Hajj Abbas was his physical presence on the front lines and he was martyred on one of the front lines. Most of our men have died on the front lines and those who were killed in the support lines were assassinated."
"These two men were killed in the Syrian deserts and the battle that they were killed in was a must and it remains a must. The battle against Daesh doesn't end before [the group] is eliminated."
“If Daesh stays in these areas, this means that Daesh will attempt to carry out more battles again because it does nothing else but to kill and destroy. It will try to expand again. Daesh tried to regain control in the battle that these men were killed in and if it weren’t for the heroic confrontations that the men took part in, things would’ve taken a different course. Daesh is planning to return to all the areas that it was dragged out from, [including Lebanon’s] Arsal. But Daesh is on the road to being eliminated.”
"But there are some who are working on obstructing the battle against Daesh. The Americans are the ones who are delaying the conclusion of the battle against Daesh. Here, some might say, 'how is that so?'"
“Yes, there are areas where the Americans are holding up the fight against Daesh, the U.S. air force sometimes prevents the Syrian Army and the resistance fighters from moving against Daesh.”
"What do you call this? Isn’t this a protection of Daesh? Why is it that the U.S. is looking to extend Daesh’s time? And even in Iraq, the United States was looking to prolong Daesh’s presence for another 10 or 20 years. And this is what I said before [in a previous speech], that the American's didn’t want Daesh to move from the outskirts of Lebanon."
"The U.S. isn’t in a rush to remove Daesh. Daesh has a mission [to cause destruction]. In the Syrian desert, the forces are moving forward and Mayadin will be taken back and Al-Bukamal, then Iraq as well. The issue is only a matter of time."
"In Lebanon and the region, we are faced with a new situation."
"There is a new project which is a Saudi Arabian-American scheme for the war in the region – Syria, Iraq and others as well. But this project has failed. It failed in Iraq and Lebanon, and Syria is on the road to being finished. It failed in Yemen and Bahrain as well."
"They will try to hold accountable those sides that stood against this scheme. This means with Iran. The issue is no longer a nuclear weapons issue. The real issue between the U.S. and Iran is that Iran was the main power to stand against the Saudi-American scheme for the region."
"We are going to see what the new strategy is that [U.S. President Donald] Trump will announce regarding Iran, and this strategy will impact the whole region because Iran is a true regional power."
"There is a new American policy against Hezbollah that also falls within this. Even Russia is included in certain sanctions and now the Americans ... consider that Hezbollah had the ‘honor’ to foil this project."
"It is natural, there is a project that was created in the region,” he said, citing former Vice President Joe Biden who said that millions of dollars’ worth of weapons were sent by Saudi Arabia to Syria.
"The beginning was in the amendments on the Hezbollah financing, that the banks and companies that deal with Hezbollah will be punished. They say that this is support for terrorism to offer money and this is a form of pressure."
"There is concern in Lebanon that this will impact the country's economic situation, but this isn't new. It has been tightened a bit, but the Lebanese managed before. But no one is asking for anything and we are not demanding the state ask for something else. The American decision is bigger than Lebanese state."
"All the Lebanese efforts in the past were attempting to keep the Lebanese banks open and to avoid the implementation of these sanctions, so as not to affect the economic situation in Lebanon. We support the official effort of the Lebanese state, which is trying to isolate the economic situation from these sanctions, but for us, we will take responsibility for these [sanctions], which are part of the battle. Because those who sacrifice these men can take the burden of these sanctions."
"And we would like to say that this will not change anything in Hezbollah's course."
Nasrallah then turned to comments made earlier Sunday by Saudi Arabian Minister of State for Arab Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan, who called for an international coalition to fight Hezbollah.
"He doesn't deserve a response but I am going to respond: When I read this statement, I thought there were several positive aspects to it, ironically. He admits that the sanctions alone won’t work against Hezbollah."
"He also admits that Hezbollah is a big regional power in the region and he knows that forming an internal coalition to fight Hezbollah won’t work because Hezbollah is bigger than this. He also admits that Saudi Arabia alone can’t do anything against Hezbollah and this is why he needs an international coalition.”
Nasrallah said that "if everyone gathered and it was a collective effort to lead and create victory, peace will prevail when Saudi Arabia sits aside. Before Saudi Arabia interfered in Syria and Iraq, things were better."
"Let Saudi Arabia leave Lebanon alone and it will be fine and the same with Yemen. Even the United Nations placed Saudi Arabia on the blacklist for its massacres against children."
"Hezbollah is among the factors that caused regional security to be threatened by Saudi Arabia, Israel and those behind Israel. And for those who are looking for a confrontation of this kind, we are all Asheq."
"We will not let go. We are here and the battle is for those to know that this is what we believe in and we will not let it go. Neither the U.S. sanctions nor the Saudi Arabian talk or Israel will force us. What has passed is much worse than what will come."
Turning to Lebanon, Nasrallah called for stability. "We want security, stability and peace in our country. We want parliamentary elections to take place on time, we want the salary scale to be passed and we want the Lebanese state to take care of people's needs."
He added: "We need a unified Lebanon and we will cut the hand of anyone who tries to impact this. Those who conspire against Lebanon will fail."
He then turned to Lebanese President Michel Aoun. “What bothers the Americans is that they want the president of Lebanon to be a spy for them, but Aoun isn’t like this. They want the president to be scared of the Americans and he wasn't like this and never will be. They want a president that pushes for what they need above Lebanon's national interests.”
"The situation in Lebanon is different and whoever wants to approach the situation in Lebanon should study their moves well and shouldn’t make mistakes."