Lebanon News

US supports ISIS control of east Syria: Nasrallah

Hezbollah supporters shout slogans, as Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah who delivers a message via video link, during the first of Ashura, a 10-day ritual commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

BEIRUT: Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah Tuesday accused the United States of facilitating ISIS' control of eastern Syria while halting its ceasefire talks with Russia at the behest of Israel.

"The U.S.-Russia truce gave Syria a chance to stop witnessing killings," Nasrallah told thousands of supporters in a rare public appearance at a complex in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

"But the U.S. withdrew [from the truce talks] and blocked the possibility of further discussions when they discovered that the targeting of the Nusra Front would weaken other terrorist forces currently aiding the U.S. in its pursuit of interests in Syria."

The U.S. suspended talks with Russia earlier this month over the Syrian crisis after it accused the Kremlin of partaking in a bombing campaign of Aleppo alongside the Syrian army.

"The U.S. wants ISIS to take Raqqa and Deir al-Zor. ... Why is the U.S. being generous to the Nusra Front and ISIS? Simply because the times of geopolitical servitude are still upon us," he added.

Nasrallah said he believed the Israeli lobby pushed for Washington to scrap its truce agreement with Russia, and that Washington submitted.

He also demanded the U.S. acknowledge the results of the highly-controversial 2014 presidential election in Syria which saw the reelection of Bashar Assad.

"If you really think Assad isn’t popular in Syria, then why are you afraid of proposing new elections? It’s because you want to cut up Syria into smaller regions in order to weaken it, and the only reason you want this to be able to please your Israeli friends," he said.

Switching to the political situation in Lebanon, Nasrallah said Hezbollah's position on the presidency has not changed since declaring its support for Michel Aoun two years ago.

He also suggested he supported the recent efforts of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri to end the presidential vacuum, saying that the country has entered a "positive" phase.

Hariri late last month met with Aoun and the heads of several major political groups in Lebanon over the crisis.

"I’m not being simplistic when I say Lebanon has entered a positive political phase in regards to the election of a new Lebanese president. We support all positive discussion if they lead to solving the presidential vacuum," he said.

Nasrallah denounced what he said were attempts to create rifts between Hezbollah and its allies, including the Amal Movement and Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement and the Marada Movement.

But he said while Hezbollah supports Aoun, it would not make sense for the group to call on Marada chief Sleiman Frangieh to withdraw his candidacy before a political agreement is reached to end the crisis.

He also called for the reactivation of the government's work, saying there were financial, legal, environmental, public health-related issues that need to be addressed.

"Dialogue and mutual respect is needed between rival political factions, it is the only way we will be able to put an end to our current political crisis," he said.

He added: "We need to put all our efforts in electing a new president, a new Cabinet based on national unity, and consequently legislative elections, to finally be able to revitalize our institutions for the better of the people."

Also in his speech, Nasrallah denounced the Saudi-led coalition's bombing campaign of Yemen launched last year. His remarks came days after the coalition bombed a funeral procession in Sanaa, killing at least 140 people and wounding hundreds of others.

Responding to commentators who urged him not to condemn Saudi "war crimes" in Yemen because it would impedes Aoun's chances of becoming president, Nasrallah said: "If even the U.N. Secretary General [Ban Ki-Moon] has condemned the Saudi-led airstrikes on Sanaa, how do you expect me, who has been vocal about Saudi war crimes in Yemen since day one, to remain silent?"

"Let’s open an investigation [into the Sanaa attack] under the patronage of the international community, if that’s what it takes to make the Saudi regime admit its war crimes," he said.

"[Saudi Arabia's] insistence on carrying through with its war on Yemen will do nothing but spill more blood. Hopefully, it will also lead to the Saudi regime’s demise once it goes bankrupt."

 

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