Lebanon News

Rival Lebanese groups fighting in Syria: Jumblatt

Jumblatt's relations with Saudi Arabia have cooled since Najib Mikati was appointed prime minister.(The Daily Star/ Hasan Shaaban).

BEIRUT: Rival Lebanese groups are fighting in Syria – some in support of President Bashar Assad and others against the embattled leader – Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblatt told Al-Jazeera television in an interview to be aired Monday.

“Hezbollah is fighting inside Syria with orders from Iran,” Jumblatt said, adding that a failure by the Lebanese government to implement its dissociation policy had also “prompted parties in the March 14 coalition to fight alongside the Syrian people.”

Lebanon has adopted a policy of disassociation, which aims to help keep the country neutralized from regional developments, particularly in Syria, given the local divisions over the crisis.

Jumblatt’s remarks come days after the Free Syrian Army accused Hezbollah of fighting alongside Assad loyalists and warned it not to attack rebels in villages near the border with Lebanon.

Three members of Hezbollah and 12 Syrian fighters were killed last week during battles in the Syrian town of Al-Qusair, northeast of Lebanon, security sources told The Daily Star.

Both Hezbollah and March 14 groups deny any military involvement in the crisis in Lebanon’s neighbor.

Although denying any participation in the fighting in Syria, Hezbollah has said that in a number of Syrian border villages with mainly Lebanese Shiite Lebanese, residents have been forced to defend themselves against rebel attacks but not upon the request of the resistance group.

The March 14 coalition says its support to the uprising in Syria in based purely on moral and humanitarian grounds.

Jumblatt, who also commented on the upcoming elections in Lebanon, said Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was keen on political parties reaching consensus on a new electoral law to govern to June polls.

He told the television station that “he has information indicating Speaker Nabih Berri will not allow the approval of the Orthodox Gathering law, which mandates that each sect elect their own MPs, because the components of the Lebanese people are absent from it.”

“Berri is keen on consensus in Lebanon,” Jumblatt was quoted as saying.

The main Christian parties have thrown their support behind the Orthodox Gathering proposal, which is also backed by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement.

The proposal, however, has been fiercely rejected by the Future Movement, the PSP, the country’s president and the prime minister as well a number of independent Christian MPs.

Opponents of the Orthodox Gathering law argue it would only deepen existing sectarian divisions in the country and allow for the rise of extremists.

The lack of agreement over a new electoral law for the June parliamentary elections has raised concerns on whether the elections will be held on time, possibly paving the way for an extension to the terms of both the Parliament and Cabinet.





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