Lebanese President Michel Suleiman has called for Hezbollah to withdraw its forces from the civil war in neighboring Syria, the Beirut-based Daily Star reported on Saturday.
For the second time in a year, Suleiman urged fighters from the Lebanese Shi'ite terror group to desist from intervening in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime in order to stymie sectarian tension in their home country.
“From this place of return, I appeal for a return to Lebanon and a withdrawal from neighboring arenas to prevent future repercussions on Lebanon’s unity, social fabric and choices," the Daily Star quoted Suleiman as saying in a public appeal to Hezbollah near the end of his term.
Last June, the Lebanese president also called on the terror group to pull its guerrillas out of Syria, saying any further involvement in its neighbor's civil war would fuel instability in Lebanon.
Established nearly 30 years ago to confront Israel's occupation of south Lebanon, Hezbollah once won praise from Sunnis and Shi'ites across the Middle East. But its fight alongside Assad has lost it much domestic and international support.
Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah fighters have helped turn the tide for Syrian President Bashar Assad in the military struggle against rebels. Assad now has a firm hold on much of central Syria around the capital and the Syrian-Lebanese border.
But the three-year-old conflict in Syria has fueled Sunni-Shi'ite tensions in neighboring Lebanon and across the wider Arab world. Syria's rebels are mostly Sunnis, while Assad belongs to the Alawite faith, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
Hezbollah and Assad share the same patron, Iran, which has supported the Syrian leader throughout the revolt.