Hizbullah denies Nasrallah was demoted

Statement: Alawsat report lacks objectivity, real information, claims group will remain steadfast.

Kassem 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Kassem 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hizbullah denied reports that its leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah had been demoted by the Shi'ite group's Iranian sponsors and that control of the group's military wing was given to his deputy. The reports appeared this week in the Saudi-owned Arabic daily Asharq Alawsat. In a statement issued late Thursday, Hizbullah said the report has "no truth and lacks objectivity and real information." "Hizbullah, under the leadership of Hassan Nasrallah, will remain the firm, steadfast, cohesive symbol of resistance in confronting the occupation, aggression and oppression," it said. Asharq Alawsat reported Thursday that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to whom Hizbullah swears spiritual loyalty, ordered the command of Hizbullah's military wing to be taken away from Nasrallah and given temporarily to Nasrallah's deputy, Sheik Naim Kassem. The report cited unidentified "sources close to the office of coordination and mobilization in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards." It said the move was prompted by disputes between Kassem and Nasrallah. Nasrallah has appeared several times since August, making a number of televised speeches, and there has been no sign that his authority in the group has diminished. Hizbullah said the reports were aimed at "spreading confusion" and discrediting the group after the show of "widespread support" for Hizbullah and Nasrallah following last year's 34-day war between the guerilla group and Israel.