BEIRUT: Salim Idriss, the commander of the Syrian rebel forces, gave Lebanon’s president, the U.N. and Arab League 24 hours to force Hezbollah to withdraw its fighters from Syria, warning that rebels could target Hezbollah’s fighters wherever they are.
“I tell Lebanese President [Michel Sleiman], Arab League Chief [Nabil Elaraby] and United Nations Secretary General [Ban Ki-moon] that if Hezbollah’s attack against Syrian territories does not stop within 24 hours, then we will take all measures and reach Hezbollah even in hell,” Idriss told Al-Arabiya TV Tuesday.
“I cannot control my fighters anymore. We are being subjected to genocide at the hands of Hezbollah. The head of the devil party [Hezbollah] has announced that he is fighting us in [the Syrian town of] Qusair and sending his fighters from Lebanon,” he said.
Nasrallah confirmed in a speech last week his party’s large-scale involvement in fighting alongside the Syrian army with the aim of protecting the resistance’s “backbone” – the regime in Damascus.
Idriss dismissed claims made by a source close to Hezbollah a day earlier who said that Syrian troops backed by the party had taken over 80 percent of Qusair.
“I assure you that claims by the devil’s party that it took control of Qusair are false,” he said.
Separately, Jamal Maarouf, the commander of a powerful rebel group based in northern Syria, the Saraqeb Martyrs Brigade, threatened in an interview published Monday to attack the Lebanese Army if it did not stop Hezbollah’s fighters from crossing into Syria, while at the same time blocking Lebanese Sunni militants from entering to help the rebels.
“I have 500 fighters in Lebanon, ready to move,” Maarouf said. “The Lebanese government should take a clear stance. Their silence means they are satisfied.”