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Rockets hit Hezbollah stronghold a day after Nasrallah speech - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Lebanese women wave Hezbollah flags while holding a picture of the movement's chief Hassan Nasrallah in Mashghara in the western Bekaa Valley. (AFP)

Lebanese women wave Hezbollah flags while holding a picture of the movement’s chief Hassan Nasrallah in Mashghara in the western Bekaa Valley. (AFP)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—A series of rockets hit a Shi’ite district of southern Beirut on Sunday, a day after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed that his group would continue fighting until the Assad regime achieved victory.

According to security officials, the two rockets hit two southern Beirut neighborhoods, wounding at least four people.
The attack is the first to target Hezbollah’s stronghold since the start of the two-year conflict in Syria, which has sharply heightened Lebanon’s own sectarian tensions.

Nasrallah, who up until Saturday had denied that Hezbollah guerrillas were fighting alongside Assad’s forces, admitted in a speech on Saturday that members of his group have been fighting in Syria for several months to defend Lebanon from what he described as radical Islamist groups that were now driving Syria’s rebellion.

“We will continue to the end of the road. We accept this responsibility and will accept all sacrifices and expected consequences of this position,” he said in a televised speech on Saturday evening. “We will be the ones who bring victory”.

The speech by the Hezbollah chief was slammed by former Prime Minister, Saad al-Hariri, who said that Hezbollah, set up by Iran in the 1980s to fight Israeli occupation forces in south Lebanon, had abandoned anti-Israeli “resistance” in favor of sectarian conflict in Syria.

“The resistance is ending by your hand and your will,” Hariri said in a statement. “The resistance announced its political and military suicide in Qusair”.

Syria’s main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, also slammed Nasrallah’s speech as an “an attempt to pit the Lebanese people against their Syrian brothers and sisters who have revolted against the brutal dictator.” In a statement issued Sunday, it said his speech “has the potential for serious ramifications in the region.”

“It explicitly declares Iranian interests as superior to the basic, inherent rights of people across the region,” the statement said.

Earlier this week, Col. Abdul-Jabbar al-Aqidi, commander of the Syrian rebels’ Military Council in Aleppo, appeared in a video while apparently en route to Qusair, in which he threatened to strike in Beirut’s southern suburbs in retaliation for Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria.

“We used to say before, ‘We are coming Bashar.’ Now we say, ‘We are coming Bashar and we are coming Hassan Nasrallah,'” he said, in reference to the Hezbollah leader.

“We will strike at your strongholds in Dahiyeh, God willing,” he said, using the Lebanese name for Hezbollah’s power center in southern Beirut.

Lebanon is struggling to deal with nearly half a million refugees who have fled the fighting in Syria and its northern city of Tripoli has seen frequent explosions of violence between Sunni Muslims and the small Alawite community.

At least 25 people have been killed in Tripoli over the last week in street fighting which has coincided with the battle for Qusair across the border.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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