Archive for the ‘ Hizbollah ’ Category

Anti-Hezbollah protester killed in Lebanon

June 10, 2013

BEIRUT (AP) — Men wielding batons and wearing yellow arm bands evoking Lebanon’s Hezbollah attacked protesters outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut Sunday during a rally against the militant group’s participation in the Syrian civil war. One protester was killed, a senior Lebanese military official and witnesses said.

A military statement said the protesters had just arrived at the embassy area when clashes broke out and a civilian opened fire. The embassy is in a predominantly pro-Hezbollah area. Witnesses saw men wearing yellow armbands — the color of Hezbollah’s flag — attacking the protesters with batons. It was unclear if they were affiliated with the militant Shiite group, and the identity of the gunman was unknown, a senior security official said.

The official identified the man killed as a 28-year-old member of the small Lebanese Option Party, which had called for the anti-Hezbollah protest. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The Syria conflict is increasingly spilling over into Lebanon, home to a fragile mosaic of more than a dozen religious and ethnic groups. Hezbollah’s overt participation in the conflict, backing forces of Syria’s President Bashar Assad in a successful campaign to drive rebels out of Qusair near the Lebanese border, heightened tensions.

The Obama administration could decide this week to approve lethal aid for the Syrian rebels, officials said Sunday. Secretary of State John Kerry postponed a planned trip Monday to Israel and three other Mideast countries to participate in White House discussions, said officials who weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement Sunday that it backed the Lebanese Red Cross in evacuating since Friday 87 Syrians seriously wounded in the fighting in Qusair to hospitals in Lebanon.

The leader of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, said during the battle for Qusair that he would side with Assad until the rebels are defeated. Assad’s Syria is Hezbollah’s main ally and supplier of weapons.

Gunmen from rival religious sects have gone to Syria to fight on the rebel side. Rebels have threatened to target Hezbollah’s bases in Lebanon. Clashes in northern Lebanon between rival Lebanese groups since last month claimed more than 28 lives, and rockets have targeted Hezbollah strongholds.

Hezbollah’s rivals have increased their criticism, deepening a political stalemate and postponing elections for 17 months. The Lebanese Option Party is headed by a Shiite politician, Ahmad El Assaad, who has long been opposed to Hezbollah. Sunday’s clash outside the Iranian Embassy marked rare fighting between two opposing Shiite groups.

The official Lebanese National News Agency said the army cordoned off the area of the clashes in southern Beirut. The private Al-Jadeed Lebanese TV said a girl who was protesting was also wounded. The station said the protester who was killed was shot twice in the leg, once in the back, and was hit on the head with a baton.

The protest at the embassy coincided with another small rally in downtown Beirut also criticizing Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria’s conflict. Dozens of protesters, including many Syrians, converged on Beirut’s central Martyrs Square where a large banner read: “Rejecting Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria.”

“Those fighting in Syria are not Lebanese. Their culture, their flag, money and weapons are Iranian,” said Saleh el-Mashnouk, an ardent critic of Hezbollah. “We are here to erase the shame that struck Lebanon because of them.”

Lebanese protester Samara el-Hariri, 31, said Syria’s war is hurting Lebanon’s economy and increasing sectarian tension. “My country is stricken,” she said. Shiite Iran, Hezbollah’s patron, has strongly backed Assad, who belongs to a Shiite offshoot.

The fighting in Syria has claimed more than 80,000 lives and displaced several million people. Beside Lebanon, it has also threatened to spill into neighboring countries, like Israel and Turkey. In Syria, fighting between government troops and rebels raged in different provinces, including near the capital, Damascus, and in the northern Aleppo province. Pro-regime media outlets said that after securing control of Qusair, government forces are preparing to move to recapture the contested city of Aleppo next. Activists said there were no signs of a new push on the city or its surrounding areas.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of Syrians inside the country for information, said six regime fighters were killed in clashes in Aleppo. The city has been carved up into areas controlled by rebels and the regime, and families have been displaced by shelling.

The Observatory also documented a rare case of a public killing of a 15-year-old youth by Islamist rebel fighters in the city of Aleppo. The center said the gunmen detained Mohammed Kattaa late Saturday, accusing him of being an “infidel” for mentioning Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in vain.

The witnesses told the center the gunmen overheard the teenager arguing with a colleague, telling him that he would not lend him money even if “Muhammad comes back to earth,” a common phrase used to describe an impossible task.

The men then brought Kattan back to the coffee shop where he works, with his shirt over his face and his back covered in marks from whips, the witnesses told the Observatory. The militants threatened the same punishment for anyone who commits blasphemy, the witnesses said. Then they shot the boy in front of his parents and a crowd before fleeing the scene.

It was not clear which rebel group the gunmen belonged to. Rights groups have warned against rising abuses by rebel fighters, including killing of captured regime soldiers or allied fighters. Kattan’s case was a rare example of rebels killing a civilian for blasphemy.

Associated Press writers Zeina Karam and Yasmine Saker, and Bradley Klapper in Washington, contributed to this report.


Hezbollah says it sent drone over Israel

October 11, 2012

BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Hezbollah claimed responsibility Thursday for launching an Iranian-made drone aircraft into Israeli airspace earlier this week, adding more tension to an already explosive Mideast atmosphere.

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah warned that it would not be the last such operation by his Lebanese militant group. Israeli warplanes shot down the unmanned plane, but the infiltration marked a rare breach of Israel’s tightly guarded airspace. Hezbollah had been the leading suspect because of its arsenal of sophisticated Iranian weapons and a history of trying to deploy similar aircraft.

With a formidable arsenal that rivals that of the Lebanese army, Hezbollah is already under pressure in Lebanon from rivals who accuse it of putting Lebanon at risk of getting sucked into regional turmoil. Confirmation that Hezbollah was behind the drone could put the group under further strain internally as it pursues its longstanding conflict with Israel.

Hezbollah, a powerful Shiite group committed to Israel’s destruction, has long served as an Iranian proxy along Israel’s northern border. It is also seen as a close ally of the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Israel accuses the Assad government of allowing Iran to ferry weapons to Hezbollah through its territory.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a brutal monthlong war in mid-2006. Hundreds of people were killed, and Hezbollah fired several thousand rockets and missiles into Israel before the conflict ended in a stalemate.

Israel routinely sends F-16 fighter planes over Lebanon, in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution that ended the 2006 war. The Israeli planes have often broken the sound barrier over Beirut and other places as a show of strength, most recently after the drone incident.

“This statement today is a claim of responsibility by the Islamic resistance for this qualitative operation” of dispatching the drone, Nasrallah said in a televised address late Thursday. “Today we are uncovering a small part of our capabilities, and we shall keep many more hidden,” he said. “It is our natural right to send other reconnaissance flights inside occupied Palestine … This is not the first time and will not be the last. We can reach any place we want” in Israel, he said.

He said the aircraft was launched from Lebanese territory and flew “tens of kilometers” over sensitive Israeli installations before it was discovered and shot down by the Israeli air force near the Dimona nuclear reactor in Israel’s southern desert.

He dismissed an Israeli military statement that it began tracking the aircraft over the Mediterranean but waited until it was over an empty desert area to bring it down in order to avert casualties on the ground.

Nasrallah claimed the group had more surprises and would not hesitate to use them in any future war with Israel. Launching the drone was a rare and provocative move by the Lebanese militants at a time of soaring regional tensions, with both Syria and Iran under intense international pressure.

Nasrallah said the aircraft was made in Iran and assembled by Hezbollah, adding that it was much more sophisticated than drones it sent before. Hezbollah has attempted to send unmanned aircraft over Israel on several occasions, dating back to 2004. Nasrallah has claimed that the group’s drones were capable of carrying explosives and striking deep into Israel.

Israel has said the latest drone was not carrying explosives and appeared to be on a reconnaissance mission. The last known attempt by Hezbollah to use a drone took place during the 2006 war, when Israel shot down an Iranian-made pilotless aircraft that entered its airspace.

Touring southern Israel on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised efforts to prevent land infiltrations from Egypt. He mentioned that Israel has been equally successful “in the air, just like we thwarted the Hezbollah attempt last weekend,” his first public statement blaming Hezbollah.

Hezbollah was formed to oppose Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon in the 1980s, and the two sides have a bitter history. Hezbollah has accused Israel of assassinating a top Hezbollah operative in 2008 in Syria. The group and Lebanese officials say they have broken up several Israeli spy rings inside Lebanon over the past few years.

Israel charges that Hezbollah, with Iranian backing, was behind a string of attempted attacks on Israeli diplomatic targets in India, Thailand and the former Soviet republic of Georgia, plus a deadly bombing this year that killed five Israeli tourists in a Bulgarian resort.

Last week, Israel announced the arrest of an Arab citizen it accused of spying for Hezbollah, the latest in a string of such cases. Nasrallah also denied reports that Hezbollah members were fighting alongside Assad’s forces against rebels in Syria.

The reports gained new urgency in the past weeks after Hezbollah buried several of its members, saying they died while performing their “jihadi duty.” Lebanese officials said they died in Syria. He said those killed were among 30,000 Lebanese who live in Syrian territory along the border with Lebanon and were defending themselves against repeated attacks by gunmen in Syria.

“Until this moment we did not enter the fight alongside the (Syrian) regime,” Nasrallah said, but did not preclude the possibility that the group might do so in the future.

AP writer Aron Heller in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

‘Hezbollah innocent in Hariri murder’

Mon Sep 12, 2011

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Miqati has rejected allegations that Hezbollah was involved in the assassination of the country’s former premier Rafiq Hariri.

Urging the Lebanese resistance movement to appoint lawyers to defend four of its members accused of involvement in the 2005 case, Miqati said that he was convinced of Hezbollah’s innocence.

“What pushes me to call on Hezbollah to follow this course of action is (my) conviction that Hezbollah is innocent in the (2005) assassination of former PM Rafiq Hariri,” Miqati told al-Jadeed television on Sunday night.

He also said that the issue of false witnesses in the Hariri case must be followed up and that Lebanon’s attorney general has been tasked with the responsibility.

Rafiq Hariri and 22 others were killed in February 2005 in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, when a huge bomb went off near his motorcade.

In July, the US-backed tribunal investigating Hariri’s murder issued its indictment and accused four Hezbollah members of taking part in the attack. The tribunal linked the four to the killing by circumstantial evidence obtained from phone records rather than direct evidence.

Beirut has not been able to arrest the men, who will be tried in absentia.

Hezbollah has repeatedly denied any role in Hariri’s assassination, saying the indictments had been politically motivated. The resistance movement has also blamed media outlets and figures linked to the March 14 Movement for spreading false statements against it.

Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly described the tribunal as being full of “financial and moral corruption,” and part of an American-Israeli plot targeting the resistance.

“When you read the text released by the tribunal, you will not find any substantial evidence, not a single piece of direct evidence is included,” Nasrallah said.

“The only thing the tribunal relies on in is the mobile phone records, and even that is circumstantial. It doesn’t even prove that any of these alleged suspects made any of these calls or even owned these phones,” he added.

Hezbollah has also accused Israel of being behind the bombing.

Source: PressTV.

Hezbollah challenges Hariri tribunal evidence

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 25 (UPI) — Using telecommunications data to accuse members of Hezbollah of assassinating Rafik Hariri is invalid because of Israeli control of the sector, a lawmaker said.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon unveiled details about four suspects tied to Hezbollah that are believed to have played a leading role in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Prosecutors at the tribunal used evidence obtained from cell phones to link the suspects to the assassination.

Hasan Fadlallah, a lawmaker in Hezbollah’s parliamentary block, said the data used by the tribunal were suspect because of Israeli connections to the Lebanese telecommunications sector.

“The entire telecoms sector is under the control of Israeli intelligence and the Jewish state can hack into the network,” he was quoted by The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon as saying.

Hezbollah has claimed the tribunal is part of an Israeli ploy meant to discredit the organization, which holds two seats in the Lebanese Cabinet.

The tribunal advised Beirut it would take further steps to bring the accused to trial after Lebanese authorities reported no luck in finding the suspects. The tribunal recently said it was looking into further cases believed to be on part with the Hariri assassination.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Hezbollah says gets support, not orders, from Iran

Tuesday, February 07, 2012
By Laila Bassam

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged Tuesday for the first time that his militant movement received financial and material support from Iran, but denied it took instructions from the Islamic Republic.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah previously only confirmed Iranian political and moral backing because it did not want “to embarrass our brothers in Iran,” but had changed policy because Iran’s leadership had announced its support in public.

“Yes, we received moral, and political and material support in all possible forms from the Islamic Republic of Iran since 1982,” Nasrallah told supporters by videolink in a speech marking the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Mohammad.

“In the past we used to tell half the story and stay silent on the other half … When they asked us about the material and financial and military support we were silent.”

Nasrallah said Iran had not issued orders to Hezbollah since the movement was founded 30 years ago, adding that if Israel attacked Iran’s nuclear sites, the leadership in Iran “would not ask anything of Hezbollah.”

He said if that were to happen, Hezbollah’s own leadership would “sit down, think and decide what to do.”

Speculation has grown that Israel might be planning to attack Iranian nuclear facilities after strong public comments by Israeli leaders about Iran’s atomic ambitions.

Many analysts believe that in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran, Hezbollah – which fought a punishing 34-day war with Israel in 2006 – would attack the Jewish state.

Nasrallah’s statement will not surprise world powers, including The United States, which lists the group as a terrorist organization, and says it has military support from Iran and Syria.

Hezbollah was set up 30 years ago by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to fight Israeli forces which had invaded Lebanon.


Nasrallah denied U.S. charges that his movement was involved in money laundering or drugs smuggling, saying Iran’s support meant the movement was not in need of cash.

Federal prosecutors in the United States said in December three Lebanese financial institutions linked to Hezbollah laundered more than $240 million through the U.S. used car market.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials have also said Hezbollah has become involved in the drug trade, facilitating distribution and sale of cocaine in West Africa.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah was not involved in money laundering, nor in drug smuggling which was religiously forbidden. “No drugs, no money laundering and not trade at all,” he said of Hezbollah activities.

The Hezbollah leader also defended his support for close ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is trying to crush an 11-month uprising against his rule. The United Nations says Assad’s crackdown on protests has killed 5,000 people.

Nasrallah, who has praised the uprisings in other Arab countries which toppled three entrenched leaders last year, said Assad still enjoyed support from the army and a large section of the population, and criticized Syria’s opposition for rejecting Assad’s promised reforms and offers of dialogue.

“They say we don’t want dialogue and we don’t want reform (because) it’s too late … It’s too late when there is fighting in Syria and there are people pushing it to civil war?”

“They are betting on the West, on America, on money and weapons to overthrow the regime. But this is a losing bet,” he added.

(Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Source: The Star.

Nasrallah: No government change

February 08, 2012
By Hussein Dakroub
The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah ruled out Tuesday a government change, disclosing that contacts have been initiated with the aim of ending a row between Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun.

Although Cabinet has been riven by political differences since it was formed last June and is currently at a standstill, Nasrallah stressed that the continuation of Mikati’s government, which is dominated by Hezbollah and its March 8 allies, was essential for the country’s security and stability.

Nasrallah also reiterated his support for embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying “a real dialogue table” between the government and the opposition was the only solution to end the 11-month-old turmoil in Syria.

“We are keen on the Cabinet to stay in office. There is no need for mediation given that it is everyone’s responsibility. There are ongoing contacts that will lead to a solution for this crisis,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech on the occasion of Prophet Mohammad’s birthday which was marked in the Arab and Muslim worlds last week.

Nasrallah scoffed at calls by the opposition March 14 politicians for the formation of a new technocrat government in view of the constant rifts between Mikati and ministers from Aoun’s parliamentary Change and Reform bloc.

“There will be no new government,” he said, speaking via video link to a large crowd of Hezbollah’s supporters at a complex in Beirut’s southern suburbs.

“Regardless of its labeling, this government is so far the basis for stability in the country. We must work hard in order [for the government] to achieve something,” Nasrallah said, adding: “Now is not the time for the toppling of governments, neither [is it] the time for political tension in Lebanon.”

He rejected March 14 accusations that Mikati’s 30-member Cabinet was a Hezbollah-controlled Cabinet.

“I say to those who have started to fix their suits and neckties for a new government, there will be no new government,” Nasrallah said.

He did not elaborate on the efforts being made to resolve the Cabinet crisis. But a senior Hezbollah official told The Daily Star Monday that the party has begun behind-the-scene contacts aimed at resolving the Cabinet crisis sparked last week following sharp differences between Mikati and Aoun’s ministers over the thorny issue of civil service appointments.

The government crisis began last week when Mikati abruptly ended a Cabinet session after ministers from Aoun’s bloc rejected the prime minister’s proposed names for appointments to the Higher Disciplinary Committee.

Mikati has implicitly accused Aoun’s ministers of obstructing the Cabinet’s work, saying he will not allow anyone to undermine the prime minister’s prerogatives. Mikati has since said that he will not resume Cabinet sessions before agreement is reached on a formula to make the government productive.

But Aoun hit back at both Mikati and President Michel Sleiman Tuesday, blaming them for the Cabinet crisis. “They [Sleiman and Mikati] don’t want us to reach to the higher positions in the state,” Aoun told reporters after chairing a weekly meeting of his bloc.

In his speech, Nasrallah denied media reports that Hezbollah was involved in money laundering or drugs trafficking to fund the group’s resistance against Israel. He also denied media reports that Hezbollah was involved in any commercial ventures in or outside Lebanon.

But he acknowledged Hezbollah has been receiving moral, political and financial support from Iran since the party was founded in 1982. In his speech, Nasrallah renewed his support for Assad in the face of what he said was a decision by the United States, the West, Israel and some moderate Arab states to topple the Assad regime.

Nasrallah said a solution to end the violence in Syria lay in “a real dialogue table” coupled with Assad’s readiness to carry out political reforms. “Betting on America and money and weapons is a losing bet,” he said.

“The Syrian leadership has agreed to most of the reforms demanded and it is ready for dialogue. Now they [the opposition] are saying it is too late. How is it too late when a war is raging in Syria and when there are some who are pushing Syria to a civil war?” Nasrallah said. “Whoever cares about Syria would never say that it was too late but would instead go to dialogue without prior conditions for the resignation of the president.”

Nasrallah categorically denied opposition claims that his group was fighting along with government forces against protesters and rebel groups in Syria.

Source: The Daily Star.

Hezbollah urges Libya opp. to find Sadr

Tue Aug 23, 2011

Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah has called on Libyan fighters to help find missing Lebanese Shia leader Imam Moussa al-Sadr and two of his companions believed to have been kidnapped in Libya in 1978.

“We are full of hope that they will be freed by your (Libyan fighters’) hands and returned to their families,” Hezbollah said in a statement late Monday, the Associated Press reported.

It is widely believed in Lebanon that Imam Moussa al-Sadr, the founder of Lebanon’s Amal movement, was kidnapped on the orders of senior Libyan officials while on an official trip to the North African country in August 1978.

Accompanied by two of his companions, Mohammed Yaqoub and Abbas Badreddin, Sadr was scheduled to meet with officials from the government of the embattled Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

In 2008, Beirut issued an arrest warrant for Gaddafi over Sadr’s disappearance.

Sadr’s family also addressed the Libyan opposition fighters in a statement on Monday saying, “We appeal to those who will take over in Libya after the collapse of the tyrant to give special attention to this case.”

Libya has been the scene of intense fighting between regime troops and fighters since a revolution seeking to topple Gaddafi began in mid-February.

The Libyan fighters swept into the heart of the capital Tripoli early Monday, and seized control of much of the city without facing significant resistance from regime forces.

Source: PressTV.