BEIRUT: Hezbollah will not assent to the deployment of international troops to Lebanon’s northern border with Syria, deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said Friday, describing such a move as a method to destroy the country.
“Hezbollah refuses to allow Lebanon to intervene in Syrian affairs and categorically rejects the deployment of international forces to the northern borders. That is a Zionist project to destroy Lebanon in the same way as Syria,” Qassem said in a ceremony in south Lebanon.
Some March 14 politicians have publically called for the deployment of an international force to the poorly demarcated border between Lebanon and Syria, although there has been no indication of high-level talks of such a move.
“When they lost the ability to influence the Syrian equation, they began proposing suspect projects like deploying international forces to the north to support the buffer zone,” Qassem said.
The proposal from March 14 figures came following several incidents of shelling on Lebanese border towns, which have claimed the lives and wounded several Lebanese in recent months.
In his speech, Qassem also said that the fact March 8 was the majority in government prevented chaos from reigning over Lebanon, given the action of his rivals in the March 14 coalition. He accused March 14 of trying to use Lebanon as a “platform for the U.S.-Israeli project against Syria and its people.”
Hezbollah has repeatedly accused their rivals of financing and arming Syrian rebel groups fighting against the regime in Damascus via Lebanon.
“Tensions in the northern region are because of them [March 14] smuggling arms to Syria, sheltering Syrian gunmen, and attempting to push Lebanon into strife,” Qassem said, adding that their failure to push Lebanon into conflict could be attributed to the existence of the March 8 majority.
“If the March 14 group stops sabotaging Lebanon's north with arms, smuggling and militia work, stability would reign. They are responsible for tensions that hit our people in Tripoli, Akkar and the north in general,” Qassem said referring to recent clashes in the northern city of Tripoli.
Supporters and opponents of President Bashar Assad engaged in fierce clashes for a week earlier this month that left at least 17 killed and over 120 wounded including soldiers and a foreign journalist, raising concerns of spillover of conflict from Syria.