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Karen Boulos

Assir: Hezbollah arming young men in Sidon

Sunni Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir accused Hezbollah of distributing weapons and drugs to Sidon youngsters as well as training them to fight on their side.

“A new strategy [the Resistance] is adopting in Sidon consists of handing out arms as well as salaries and drugs,” Assir said during an interview with NOW.

“Weapons are offered to all youngsters, especially the Palestinians… They are later taken to the Beqaa and the South in order to be trained and are given arms and money.”

The Sheikh also said that Hezbollah is working on luring Popular Nasserite Movement members into joining the Hezbollah-affiliated Resistance Brigades, which resulted in occasional clashes between partisans of these two parties.

Assir rose to prominence for his outspoken opposition to the Assad regime and his calls for disarming Hezbollah, the strongest military force in the country.

The Sunni Sheikh denied having any ties with Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and refuted receiving financial support from Qatar through Lebanese singer Fadel Shaker, who joined the Salafist movement last year.

“No [country] supports us. All our support comes from our partisans,” Assir said.

In November, a MP affiliated with the pro-Hezbollah Change and Reform bloc accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of financing the Salafi sheikh.

When asked about the electoral law issue, Assir denounced politicians’ statements on the issue and said they were “solely sectarian.”

“They accuse us of sectarianism while it is all they talk about.”

Also, Assir said he would not run in the 2013 parliamentary elections nor support the Future bloc in the vote.

“I do not think I will [be involved] in the elections [in favor of] the Future Movement or any other [party].”

This article is a translation of the original Arabic

Weapons are offered to all youngsters, especially the Palestinians.