(photo credit: HO / AL-MANAR TV / AFP)
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah denied rumors that have been circulating lately suggesting that he had been hospitalized in a Beirut hospital after suffering a stroke.
In a speech broadcasted by Hezbollah's Al-Manar television, Nasrallah denied reports that he suffered a stroke. The Hezbollah leader said that the rumors were part of a campaign of psychological warfare waged by Syrian rebel groups. He went on to note that rather than drinking medicine during his speeches, he sips lemonade.
The reference made by Hezbollah's Secretary General was likely in response to rebel group's assertion that Nasrallah "has seemed drained -- sweating and reaching for water in recent TV appearances."
Nasrallah also called on his followers to disregard the rumors as a ploy by Hezbollah's enemies to carry out "psychological warfare" against the Iran-backed Shi'ite militia.
Hezbollah, which has become the premier force combating jihadists and other rebel forces in Syria, has come under great strain, but in Nasrallah's Saturday speech, he asserted that Hezbollah had gotten the upper hand in their latest battle, dislodging jihadist groups from the Qalamoun mountains abutting Lebanon's border with Syria.
"A strong defeat was dealt to the armed militants and they left the areas of battlefield," Nasrallah said Saturday night. "Around 300km was retrieved from the control of the militants, most of it is in Syrian territory," he added.
Rumors of a stroke, which were not substantiated by any official source, also claimed that Nasrallah had been evacuated to Al Rasul Al Azam Hospital in Dahye last Thursday.
Rumors questioning Nasrallah's health largely began in 2013 when Lebanese Radio reported that he has visited Iran to undergo treatment for cancer.
The report claimed that a team of doctors from Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan and even Venezuela had convened in the Iranian city of Qom as part of an effort to improve Nasrallah's health.