Syrian rebel mourns fallen comrade in Qusair 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama told his Lebanese
counterpart on Monday he was concerned about Lebanese Hezbollah militants
fighting in Syria to support Syrian President Bashar Assad, the White House
Obama and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman spoke by telephone the
same day Syrian activists said about 30 Hezbollah fighters and 20 Syrian
soldiers and militiamen loyal to Assad had been killed in the fiercest fighting
this year in the rebel stronghold of Qusair.
Lebanon has maintained a
policy of "dissociation" from Syria's 2-year-old conflict. But many Lebanese
officials believe their country is at risk of being dragged into the civil war,
which the United Nations says has killed 70,000 people.
expressed his appreciation to President Suleiman and the Lebanese people for
keeping Lebanon's borders open and hosting refugees from Syria, and pledged
continued US support to help Lebanon manage this challenge," the White House
said in a statement summarizing their phone call.
It said the two leaders
agreed that "all parties should respect Lebanon's policy of disassociation from
the conflict in Syria and avoid actions that will involve the Lebanese people in
the conflict." Sunday's death toll in Qusair highlighted the increasing
intervention in Syria by Assad's allies in Hezbollah, a Shi'ite guerrilla group
originally set up by Iran in the 1980s to fight Israeli occupation troops in
"President Obama stressed his concern about Hezbollah's
active and growing role in Syria, fighting on behalf of the Assad regime, which
is counter to the Lebanese government's policies," the White House
Lebanon suffered its own civil war from 1975 to 1990 and endured a
military presence by Syria, its historically dominant neighbor, for 29 years
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