Nasrallah calls for 'victory' rally

Not clear whether Hizbullah leader, in hiding since July 12, will be present.

nasrallah speech 298 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
nasrallah speech 298 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hizbullah's leader on Sunday called for a massive rally in Beirut's bombed out southern suburbs to mark the militant group's "victory" over Israel during the monthlong fighting this summer. Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said the rally, to be held Friday evening, would show Hizbullah's "absolute commitment to our right to recover our land and prisoners and defend our nation, its dignity, freedom, sovereignty and real and full independence in the face of [Israeli] occupation." "I call on all of you to participate in this victory rally," he said in a brief, televised speech broadcast on Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV station. Nasrallah, who went into hiding on July 12, the start of the 34-day war, and has not been seen publicly since, did not say whether he would take part personally in the rally. He has hinted in interviews that he would appear at some point, possibly at a rally, but did not say when. Friday's event would mark only the second large-scale Hizbullah rally in its stronghold, Beirut's southern suburbs, since fighting ended more than a month ago. Such rallies, during which Nasrallah gave fiery speeches to hundreds of thousands of supporters, were common before hostilities erupted. The fighting, triggered by Hizbullah's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid, has given way to a political struggle between the Western-backed government and Hizbullah as Lebanese troops try to establish control over the south of the country. Nasrallah said the rally would "celebrate the divine and historic victory over the Zionists - the enemies of Lebanon and the nation" and "honor and thank all those who supported the resistance" during the Israeli offensive.