Lebanon News

Hezbollah says spared lives of wounded Syrian rebels

Hezbollah's deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem speaks in front of students at the LU in Hadath, Lebanon, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Hezbollah's deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said Wednesday his group fought “with honor” in Syria and had helped in the transfer of wounded Syrian rebels in accordance with the party’s religious beliefs.

“We fought with honor because we were clear [about our involvement in Syria] and we did not [use deception],” Qassem said during a commemoration ceremony in Beirut’s southern suburbs, according to a statement from Hezbollah.

“A lot of Arab and regional countries send arms and money and commit ugly acts with their tools then try to deny what they did,” he added.

“And this is what happened with some tools [parties] present in Lebanon,” he said, apparently referring to the Future Movement. Hezbollah accuses the Lebanese opposition party of sending fighters to Syria. The Future Movement has denied the allegations.

“As for us, we have fought with honor and we did not kill those fleeing [the battles] in adherence to our Islamic [principles] and religion, and we contributed in transferring the wounded in the battles although they were fighters because our religion commands us not to kill any wounded,” he added.

Hezbollah has admitted to fighting alongside forces loyal to President Bashar Assad in Syria, claiming it is defending against a U.S.-Israeli-Takfiri project targeting Damascus, which it regards as the “backbone” of the resistance group. The group’s involvement in Syria has been widely condemned.

Qassem, during the ceremony, also slammed former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who heads the Future Movement, and accused him of implementing an American-Israeli plot in the region and inciting strife.

“Saad Hariri is committing a mistake when he [bases] his political future in accordance with the American-Israeli plot and when he incites sectarian strife, when he refuses a national unity Cabinet and when he supports terrorists in Lebanon and Syria,” he said.

The Hezbollah official also reiterated opposition to Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam’s suggestion of a 24-member Cabinet lineup, divided equally between figures acceptable to the March 8, March 14 and centrists.

“We nominated ... Salam to form a national unity Cabinet and his responsibility is to be fair in the formation and to form [a Cabinet] in line with national unanimity,” Qassem said, adding that such a government could only be formed if ministerial portfolios are distributed according to the respective representation of parties in Parliament.

“We are not a trivial group to accept a marginal share that does not influence [Cabinet] decisions and this is why the 8-8-8 Cabinet proposal is something we totally reject,” he added.

Hezbollah has called for the formation of national unity Cabinet in which the March 8 coalition is granted veto power.

Salam has rejected such a demand and said that no political group will be granted a blocking third in his government. Salam is seeking a non-political government of “national interest” that would see the rotation of ministerial portfolios between sects.

The Future Movement and Lebanese Forces, both leading parties in the March 14 alliance, have called for the formation of a neutral salvation Cabinet in which political partisans are excluded.





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