Lebanon: Hezbollah mustn't spark sectarian conflict

As Hezbollah fighters help Assad fight for border towns, Lebanese President Suleiman warns of guerrillas averting focus from Israel.

May 25, 2013 05:37
1 minute read.
Supporters of Hezbollah, carry the coffin during funeral in Nabi Sheet near Baalbeck May 20, 2013.

Hezbollah coffin in Syria. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman warned Friday against Hezbollah dragging the country into sectarian conflict,  in reference to the Shi'ite group's operatives fighting in neighboring Syria, the Beirut-based Daily Star reported.

“How can a nation [like Lebanon] provide such a wonderful example of resistance and sacrifice, while at the same time promoting sectarian differences?” Suleiman was quoted as saying.

The Lebanese president's remarks came following a major assault by Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces on a rebel held town over the past week, which has drawn in fighters from Assad's Shi'ite allies Hezbollah, justifying fears that the conflict would cross borders at the heart of the Middle East.

“The meanings of resistance (Hezbollah's military wing) are loftier ... than sinking into strife, whether in Syria or Lebanon,” the Daily Star quoted Suleiman as saying at a ceremony marking 13 years since Israel pulled out of southern Lebanon.

“The resistance is more noble and more important than anything, and should not get bogged down in the sands of dissension, whether in Syria or Lebanon,” he added .

Hezbollah guerrillas have been engaged in fighting their biggest battle yet for Assad, and about 30 were killed on Sunday, Syrian activists said, during fighting in the rebel stronghold of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border.

Assad wants to secure the coastal region which is the homeland of his Alawite minority sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam. He is backed by Shi'ite Iran and Hezbollah against mainly Sunni rebels supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition London-based monitoring group, said Syrian army and Hezbollah forces at Qusayr were trying to cut off rebels in the nearby village of Hamidiya. State media said the army had destroyed "terrorist dens" in Hamidiya and also killed eight "terrorists" in another village, Daba, close to Qusayr.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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