Hezbollah’s leader vowed that “friends” of the Syrian regime would not allow it to fall and that his party would defend Lebanese Shiites residing in the Al-Qusayr area of Syria.
“Syria has real friends in the region and across the world that will not let the country fall into the hands of the US, Israel, or takfiris,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address Tuesday evening.
Hezbollah and Iran are staunch regional supporters of the Syrian regime, while Russia backs it military and diplomatically in the UN Security Council alongside China.
Nasrallah also promised to defend the Lebanese Shiite inhabitants of Syria’s Al-Qusayr region, which has been the focus of fierce battles in recent weeks.
“We will not abandon the Lebanese residents of Al-Qusayr to face the aggressions of the armed groups [by themselves] and we will do everything in our power to help them survive, we will not hesitate at all to do so,” the Hezbollah chief said in reference to Shiite inhabitants of the area.
“There are more than 30,000 Lebanese residing in Al-Qusayr. Over the course of the last few months, the Syrian army has had to retreat from the towns in Al-Qusayr. This has led to these various towns’ residents having to face the rebels on their own.”
Nasrallah accused the Lebanese state of failing to protect border towns, adding that Beirut could not be expected to send the Lebanese army into Syria.
He also warned that “extremist groups” operating near the Shiite shrine of Sayyida Zainab outside Damascus have threatened to destroy the site.
“If such a crime were to take place, it will carry with it grave consequences.”
Hezbollah has come under criticism for reportedly fighting on the side of the Syrian regime against rebels in the Al-Qusayr area and outside Damascus, with news outlets in the past weeks reporting that a number of party members had been killed in fighting in Syria.
However, Nasrallah denied that large numbers of Hezbollah fighters had been killed in the fighting in Syria.
“Hezbollah members killed in Syria are buried publicly, we are not ashamed [of their deaths],” he said, adding that the large numbers of fatalities reported in media outlets could not be hidden in a country of Lebanon's size.
Nasrallah also addressed the recent accusations chemical weapons had been used in Syria, saying that “the chemical weapons ‘game’ is nothing but an attempt to find an excuse for foreign intervention in Syria to destroy it.”
He added that foreign powers aimed to “destroy Syria as a country, people and army” and “cancel its regional role.”
Last week, Israeli intelligence said Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against rebels, while the US afterward said it had evidence chemical weapons were likely used in the conflict.
The Hezbollah chief also denied the Shiite party was behind the drone Israel shot down last week.
“Hezbollah did not send a drone across Lebanon’s southern border, and denied these claims by way of a one-line statement issued the night of said incident."
“Israel, until now and with all its technology, has not yet been able to ascertain or announce where the drone originated from,” he also said.
Israel on Thursday shot down a drone in an incident described by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "extremely grave."
Israel Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said Hezbollah was behind the drone, but the Shiite movement’s television channel Al-Manar said the group "denies sending any unmanned drone towards occupied Palestine.”