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Hezbollah can’t hide crimes in Syria: Hariri

In this June 12, 2009 file photo, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during an interview at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Lebanon. (Grace Kassab/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri accused Hezbollah Thursday of fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces against rebels, saying the party can no longer hide its “crimes” in Syria.

The head of the Future Movement also strongly denied Hezbollah’s charges that his party was involved in the 19-month-old bloody conflict in Syria.

“The Lebanese – Shiites, Sunnis and Christians – know very well, even from the mouths of Hezbollah leaders, the nature of [the party’s] involvement in what it alleged to be ‘a jihadi duty’ alongside the regime of killings, repression, crackdown and subjugation facing the Syrian people,” Hariri said in a statement released by his media office.

“There is no longer anything that can help to cover up this clear crime committed by Hezbollah first against Lebanon then Syria, especially as it is fully aware that the days of its ally in Damascus are numbered,” he added.

Hariri was apparently responding to Hezbollah’s deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem, who has accused the Future Movement of intervening in the Syrian conflict by sending money and arms to anti-regime rebels fighting to oust the Assad regime.

The accusation has been denied by Future MPs.

Hariri also rejected accusations by Hezbollah MPs and several media outlets that Future MP Oqab Saqr was involved in the Syrian conflict by aiding Syrian opposition groups. “MP Oqab Saqr has been assigned by [former] Prime Minister Saad Hariri to follow up the situation in Syria and coordinate with Syrian opposition political parties, concerning the Future Movement’s media and political support for the Syrian people in facing the killing machine directed by the criminal Syrian regime and its regional allies,” the statement said. It added that Saqr, who has been living out of Lebanon for more than a year, was tasked with ensuring humanitarian assistance to the victims of the war in Syria, including the wounded, the homeless and the orphans.

Saqr was also tasked with making contacts with Turkish authorities as part of efforts to secure the release of Lebanese held in Syria, in addition to helping some Lebanese journalists there, the statement said.

It lashed out at the Lebanese government’s dissociation policy on Syria.

“It is up to the Lebanese people to judge the Lebanese government that has distanced itself from the blood of the Syrian people after it was formed by Hezbollah, which controls its decision-making,” the statement said.

It added that while the government has adhered to a dissociation policy, “Hezbollah has upheld the jihad duty against the Syrian people.”

Syrian opposition forces have repeatedly accused Hezbollah of supporting the regime forces in their crackdown against rebels. According to rebels, members of Hezbollah have died in Syria’s clashes before being returned to Lebanon for burial. The party, however, has denied such accusations.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary General Ben Ki-moon said that Hezbollah’s launching of a reconnaissance drone into Israel’s airspace was a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 that could lead to threatening Lebanon’s stability.

In a report on the implementation of Resolution 1559 on Lebanon, Ban said Hezbollah’s alleged involvement in the Syrian conflict threatened Lebanon’s stability. He also voiced his concerns over the repercussions of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon, praising the stances of Sleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati with regard to the government’s dissociation policy on Syria.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 19, 2012, on page 1.

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