Asir Returns from Qusayr, Says Had 'the Honor of Firing on the Criminals'

Controversial Islamist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir on Wednesday returned to Lebanon after crossing into the war-torn Syrian area of Qusayr to “support the real heroes” of the armed Syrian opposition.

“My visit to Qusayr's countryside was in support of the true heroes and to coordinate with them and examine the situation,” Asir said on the social networking website Twitter.

“But I refused to return before gaining the honor of firing on the criminals,” he added.

On Monday, Asir called on “everyone who has said that the rebels in Qusayr don't need more fighters to go visit them and confirm that with them directly … and let everyone stop the overbidding in this regard.”

“My visit to Qusayr's countryside increased my certainty and insistence on the religious stance I have voiced in support of our people in Syria in general and in Qusayr in particular,” Asir said on Wednesday.

Syria's main rebel Free Syrian Army has rejected calls for jihad (holy war) by Lebanese Islamist clerics, saying "what we are missing in Syria is weapons, not men."

Asir's official Facebook page published pictures and a video showing the Islamist cleric carrying a machinegun alongside the rebels and opening fire from the rooftop of a building.

On Tuesday, Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah declared that his party "will not hesitate" to help the Lebanese residents of Qusayr in their confrontation with Syrian rebels.

"30,000 Lebanese Muslims and Christians were targeted, torched and prevented from going to work" at the hands of Syrian rebels in Qusayr, Nasrallah said.

The opposition-affiliated Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said elite fighters from Hizbullah are leading the fight against rebels in Qusayr.

Syrian regime forces have recently recaptured a string of strategic villages in the region, which is along the border with Lebanon.

That raised fears among rebels that the town of Qusayr itself, a stronghold of the uprising, could fall into government hands.

The area is of key strategic importance because it runs along the border with Lebanon and is near the route running from Damascus to the coast.

Hizbullah says that its members who are fighting in Homs province are Shiite residents of Syrian border towns engaged in self-defense against rebel forces.

Fighting in the area has spilled over into Lebanon, with rebels targeting border towns inside Lebanon in response to Hizbullah involvement in the conflict.

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