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Nasrallah denies Hezbollah members fighting with Syrian regime

A supporter of Lebanon's Hezbollah group holds pictures of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah (L), Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) and slain Hezbollah commander Imad Mughnieh (bottom-C) during a rally in southern Beirut to denounce a film mocking Islam on September 17, 2012. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, who made a rare public appearance at the rally, has called for a week of protests across the country over the low-budget, US-made film, describing it as the "worst attack ever on Islam."

BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah denied Thursday reports that members of the Lebanese resistance group were fighting alongside Assad forces and said one of its members was killed in Syria but not in combat.

“Until this moment, we have not fought in Syria and [President Bashar Assad’s] regime has not asked us to do so,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Al-Manar television.

Nasrallah scoffed at reports in the media saying Hebzollah fighters were taking part in the unrest in Lebanon’s neighbor, describing them as “inaccurate” and stemming from intentional fabrication by the Syrian opposition.

“Right from the start the Syrian opposition has been telling the media that Hezbollah sent 3,000 fighters to Syria which we have denied and said is a lie and untrue,” he said.

Last week, Al-Arabiya television released what it claimed were leaked communiqués between Syrian intelligence and the state's leadership. In the documents, references were made to Hezbollah and its alleged activities with the Syrian security apparatus.

Other reports earlier this month claimed a Hezbollah commander was killed in the Syrian border town of Qusayr. Hezbollah says Ali Hussein Nassif, who was buried in his hometown in the Bekaa last week, was killed while performing his “Jihadist duty.”

Referring to Nassif’s case, Nassrallah said the Hezbollah commander was killed in a Syrian border area inhabited by Lebanese that was frequently the target of bombardment by Syrian rebels.

“Abu Abbas is a commander of the group’s infantry unit in the Bekaa ... he is then responsible for the Hezbollah members in that area and because these border towns continue until this day to be attacked [by Syrian rebels], martyrs have fallen and Abu Abbas was one of them,” he said.

Nasrallah said the Syrian town, which he did not identify, was among 23 others with mainly Lebanese populations that had armed themselves to fend off attacks by the Free Syrian Army.

However, Nasrallah was quick to note that residents were acting alone and without any involvement from Hezbollah.

“The Lebanese in these border villages inside Syrian territory are fighting all by themselves and no one is fighting on their behalf,” he said.

During his televised speech, Nasrallah also warned the FSA, which on Tuesday said it had detained 13 Hezbollah members and threatened to take the fight to Beirut's southern suburbs unless the Lebanese group ended its support for Assad.

“Nobody should threaten us, intimidate or test us,” Nasrallah said.

The Hezbollah chief reiterated his support to the Syrian regime and said it did not need assistance.

“The regime does not need us or anyone else to fight alongside it ... We have not taken such a decision and it is nonexistent up to now," Nasrallah said, adding that the group would not hide its involvement once it decided to do so.

 

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