Hezbollah slams Islamic State for seeking to ignite sectarian strife in Lebanon

Representative of Lebanese Shi'ite group downplays threat posed on his country by Sunni extremist militants.

September 9, 2014 17:33
1 minute read.

Supporters of Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah march at an anti-US rally in Beirut in September 2012.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Hezbollah officials on Tuesday downplayed threats on the security of Lebanon posed by Islamic State militants who have taken control of swathes of neighboring Syria and Iraq, the Beirut-based Daily Star reported.

Lebanese MP Mohammad Raad, who head's the Hezbollah bloc in Lebanon's parliament, stressed that the country's army and his Shi'ite Islamist group were capable of defeating Islamic State's Sunni extremists.

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Raad condemned Islamic State, accusing the Sunni terror group of seeking to ignite sectarian strife in Lebanon with the capture, along with Syrian Islamists, in August of a group of Lebanese soldiers.

“There is no need for fear at all. The Lebanese Army and the Resistance are very well capable of using the appropriate antidote with the monsters,” the Daily Star quoted Raad as saying.

"If ISIS is conspiring to sow strife and chaos between the components of the country, we should prevent it from achieving its goals by rejecting sedition," he added.

Islamic State militants have beheaded two captive Lebanese soldiers among a group of 19 soldiers since militants, including fighters affiliated with Islamic State, raided the Lebanese border town of Arsal in August.

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia will hold talks about militant violence in the region with the United States and Muslim allies, the majority Sunni kingdom announced on Tuesday, in an apparent attempt to support international efforts to tackle crises in Iraq and Syria.

In mid-August, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah described the radical Islamist movement as a growing "monster" that could threaten Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf states.

In a separate speech, Nasrallah said Islamic State also posed an existential threat to his own nation, Lebanon, the target of an incursion by Islamist insurgents from Syria earlier in August. He said his heavily armed Shi'ite Muslim group - considered by the West and Israel as a terror organization - was ready to fight the threat in Lebanon - if required.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah has been helping Syrian President Bashar Assad fight a Sunni Islamist-dominated insurgency that spilled into the Lebanese border town of Arsal on August 2, triggering five days of battles between the Lebanese army and militants including members of Islamic State.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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