NEW YORK: Hezbollah is working to bolster President Bashar Assad’s regime and its fighters are part of his “killing machine,” the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said Monday.
“[Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan] Nasrallah’s fighters are now part of Assad’s killing machine and Hezbollah leaders continue to plot with Iran new measures to prop up a murderous and desperate dictator,” Susan Rice said during a U.N. Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East.
Rice also warned of the possibility that the ongoing unrest in Syria will have negative repercussions on other countries, giving Lebanon as an example of a state that is feeling the effects of the conflict.
“No one can deny that Assad’s war against the Syrian people now poses real challenges to all of Syria’s neighbors, including Lebanon. From deadly Syrian regime attacks across the border to tens of thousands of refugees, Lebanon is already suffering the consequences of this conflict,” she said.
The ambassador also criticized Hezbollah for its use of the term “resistance” to describe itself, calling this deceptive: “Hezbollah’s active and growing support for Assad’s war exposes Hasan Nasrallah’s claims of promoting Lebanon’s national interest as nothing more than a deadly form of deception. The group’s leaders may try to change the subject by invoking hollow rhetoric about so-called resistance, but the truth is plain to see.”
Last week, Nasrallah denied reports that members of his group were fighting alongside Assad’s forces, but Rice called on the international community to dig deeper into Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.
“We encourage the international community to counter Hezbollah’s terrorist activity and do more to expose Hezbollah’s deepening involvement in Assad’s war,” she said, adding that “we commend the Lebanese government – and the Lebanese Armed Forces in particular – for maintaining stability and law and order at this critical juncture.”
Rice said the U.S. welcomes the efforts of President Michel Sleiman and others to promote dialogue, “including with respect to the disarmament of illegal militias, as called for in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, and we reiterate our firm commitment to a stable, sovereign and independent Lebanon.”
Jeffrey Feltman, U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs and former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, said that Lebanese areas near the border with Syria are still threatened by a possible spillover from Syria.
Feltman told the Security Council that the Syrian conflict is spiraling beyond its border, affecting Lebanon, the [Israeli occupied] Golan Heights, and the Syrian-Turkish border. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed his alarm at escalation on the border. Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor said that by providing Hezbollah with sophisticated arms, Iran is turning Lebanon into an “outpost for terror.”
“Iran has provided Hezbollah with the funds, training and advanced weapons to hijack the Lebanese state and transform it into an outpost for terror,” Prosor said.
Hezbollah claimed responsibility last week for the launch of an unmanned drone which Israel shot down earlier this month after it flew 55 km into its territory.
Nasrallah said the drone’s parts were made in Iran but assembled by Hezbollah, adding that the drone’s flight was “not the first time and will not be the last.”
Prosor said “one does not need any further evidence that Hezbollah is a direct proxy of the Iranian regime,” adding that its “continued provocations could have devastating consequences for the region.”
Tensions have increased in the Middle East with Israel threatening to bomb the nuclear sites of Hezbollah’s patron Iran. – with Reuters