Hezbollah: We will defeat Islamic State on the battlefield

Senior official from Lebanese-based Shi'ite group calls for "change in national priorities" in battle against Sunni extremists in Syria.

An Islamic State fighter carries the group’s flag in Raqqa, north-central Syria. (photo credit: REUTERS)
An Islamic State fighter carries the group’s flag in Raqqa, north-central Syria.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hezbollah charged on Monday that it would defeat Islamic State militants on the battlefield, eliminating the possibility of a diplomatic debate with the radical Sunni group, the Beirut-based newspaper The Daily Star reported.
The deputy head of the Lebanese-based Shi'ite group stated that Hezbollah needed to maintain its positions in neighboring Syria where Islamic State fighters have claimed portion of the embattled country's eastern and central regions.
“There could never be a war of words between ISIS and us, but there is the field where we will defeat them. We will not engage in a war of statements or political disputes,” The Daily Star quoted senior Hezbollah official Nabil Qaouk as saying.
Qaouk cited an incursion in August by Islamist insurgents from Syria on Lebanese military forces as necessitating "a change in national priorities," calling for his country to engagement in confronting radical Islamists threatening to destabilize Lebanon.
“Any delay in drafting a national defense strategy or in using strong cards would endanger the lives of soldiers and paves the way for takfiris [infidels to launch] more attacks and provocations,” he was quoted as saying.
Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, has been an important ally of President Bashar Assad in the civil war and has deployed forces to fight alongside government loyalists.
The Syrian government has been pressing an air campaign against Islamic State in eastern and central Syria as the United States seeks to assemble a coalition against the group that has seized large areas of both Syria and Iraq.
Western governments have ruled out the idea of cooperating with Assad in the fight. US policy towards Syria is built on Assad leaving power.
US President Barack Obama said last week he would not hesitate to strike Islamic State in Syria. The Syrian government has said any action taken without its permission will amount to an act of aggression.