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NOW/AFP

Assir calls for Jihad in Syria

The controversial Sunni Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir on Monday urged Muslims and the Lebanese people to fight alongside the rebels in Syria.

 

There is a religious duty on every Muslim who is able to do so... to enter into Syria in order to defend its people, its mosques and religious shrines, especially in Al-Qusayr and Homs,” AFP cited Assir as saying during a press conference on Monday.

 

He voiced hope that “our fellow Christians, Druze and free Shia” would partake in this Jihad, according to a statement issued by his press office.

 

Assir said his address mainly targeted "residents of the border areas," but added: "This fatwa [religious decree] affects us all, especially those who have military experience."

 

Meanwhile, the firebrand cleric announced that he will establish the “Free Resistance Brigades” starting from Sidon in order to achieve this goal.

 

He requested the rich to donate money in order to support this “resistance.”

 

Assir also called for the creation of “secret armed groups for self-defense in case [Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan] Nasrallah decides to start killing in Lebanon as he is doing in Syria.”

 

"Nasrallah and his shabiha have taken the decision to enter into these areas [Al-Qusayr] in order to massacre the oppressed people there."

 

Meanwhile, in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, Sunni sheikh Salem al-Rafii, echoed Assir's call, AFP reported.

 

"As Hezbollah sends fighters to defend Shiite areas... we will also send money and men to our Sunni brothers in Al-Qusayr," he said.

 

"We also call on all young Sunnis to be ready, as a first wave of young men and weapons will be sent to carry out their jihadist duty in Qusayr and to defend Sunni regions," Rafii added.

 

Elite fighters from Hezbollah are leading the fight against rebels in the region of Al-Qusayr in the central province of Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday.

 

Over the weekend, Syrian regime forces retook control of a string of strategic villages in the region, which is along the border with Lebanon, raising fears among rebels that the town of Al-Qusayr itself, a stronghold of the uprising, could fall into government hands.

 

Fighting in the area has spilled over into Lebanon, with rebels reportedly targeting border towns inside Lebanon in response to Hezbollah involvement in the conflict.

 

Assir has been at the center of controversy in recent months, notably after causing disturbances in Sidon following calls to hold sit-ins in protest against the alleged deployment of gunmen affiliated with the Shiite party Hezbollah in apartments near his mosque in Abra.

 

The firebrand Sunni cleric rose to prominence for his outspoken opposition to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his calls for disarming Hezbollah.  

The firebrand cleric announced that he will establish the “Free Resistance Brigades” starting from Sidon in order to achieve this goal.