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Lebanon News

Future slams Hezbollah activity in Syria

  • Future Movement MP Atef Majdalani speaks during an interview in Beirut. (The Daily Star/File)

BEIRUT: The Future Movement Tuesday denounced Hezbollah’s participation in the ongoing unrest in Syria and warned that the party’s involvement in the neighboring country’s crisis would put Lebanon in danger.

“We condemn the increase in the number of Lebanese dead in Syria as a result of the continuing involvement of Hezbollah in the fighting,” the bloc said in a statement Tuesday.

Following their weekly meeting at former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s residence in Beirut, the Future Movement said Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian crisis would further tarnish its image in the country and the region.

“Such involvement associates Lebanon with a number of dangers and further hurts the image of Hezbollah, which has distanced itself from its primary [purpose, which is] leading a resistance against the Israeli enemy,” MP Atef Majdalani said in a statement.

Earlier this week, a source close to Hezbollah confirmed that two members of the party had been killed while fighting alongside Syrian government forces in Al-Qusair area near the border with Lebanon.

“Two members of Hezbollah who went to Syria to fight against armed groups in the Al-Qusair sector have been killed,” the source said.

Three others were also killed in February in the same area. Hezbollah said that its members killed in Syria were fighting in self-defense in a Shiite town.

The Future Movement argued that Hezbollah was no longer using its arms in line with the country’s “national interest,” but for regional goals.

“[Hezbollah] has endorsed a new role for its arms in line with regional plans and away from the Lebanese national interest,” the statement said.

The bloc called on Syrian rebels to immediately secure the release of nine Lebanese hostages, who were kidnapped in Syria last May, to avoid causing harm to the Syrian people’s “rightful demands.”

Eleven men were abducted in Syria on their way back from a religious pilgrimage to Iran, and negotiations with the opposition members holding them have only secured the release of two.

“The Lebanese kidnapped in Syria should be freed today, not tomorrow,” the bloc said, adding that no similar kidnappings should target Syrians living in Lebanon.

The bloc also denounced the Syrian regime’s shelling of Lebanese border towns in the north and in the Bekaa Valley regions. “These attacks are a violation of Lebanese sovereignty and work should be done to put an end to this.”

But Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon denied allegations that the Syrian army was attacking Lebanese territory, and said Syria was actually being attacked by insurgents from Lebanon.

“The attacks are coming from Lebanon and not from Syria. They are conducted daily by gunmen from the Lebanese territories,” Ali Abdel-Karim Ali said Tuesday when asked about repeated Syrian attacks against Lebanese territory.

“Even the Lebanese media is not hiding such attacks against Syria and some are being investigated by the Lebanese judiciary,” Ali said after a meeting with former Prime Minister Salim al-Hoss.

Ali also called on the Lebanese authorities to take “more firm measures to stop the infiltration of fighters coming from Lebanon into Syria.”

“There is cooperation from Lebanon sometimes, and at times security is getting loose in some places. Addressing these violations should be a high priority for both Lebanon and Syria.”

The Syrian envoy reiterated that Damascus was committed to the “brotherly” relations with its neighbor.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 10, 2013, on page 4.
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