Nasrallah Urges Govt. to Negotiate with Syria on Refugees, Says Keen on Kuwait Tiesإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Friday called on the Lebanese government to “negotiate” with Damascus over the return of Syrian refugees to their country, following the successful evacuation operation that saw the transfer of thousands of refugees and militants from northeast Lebanon to central and north Syria.
“I call on Lebanese politicians to draw lessons from these negotiations. This operation led to the transfer of hundreds of militants and thousands of families without international efforts and without a role for the U.N. or the international Red Cross... The guarantors on the ground were the Lebanese General Security and the Syrian regime,” said Nasrallah in a televised speech marking the completion of an evacuation and prisoner exchange agreement with al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida's former Syrian affiliate.
The agreement followed days of clashes in the outskirts of the Lebanese border town of Arsal and the Syrian town of Flita that saw Hizbullah fighters and Syrian troops besiege Nusra's militants in a small pocket of territory.
Urging the Lebanese government to “negotiate” with Damascus over the return of more than one million refugees to Syria, Nasrallah reassured that Syria's government will offer "all the needed guarantees" in the vein of its role in the Arsal evacuation deal.
“The media has not been fair towards the Syrian army and its sacrifices on this front and we must appreciate its sacrifices, martyrs and wounded,” added Nasrallah, referring to the Syrian forces' role in the border offensive.
Moreover, Hizbullah's chief revealed that President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri had “agreed to and facilitated” the exchange and evacuation negotiations.
“President Michel Aoun agreed to the negotiations... and offered the necessary facilitation to ensure success. I know his sympathy and love towards the martyrs, captives, fighters and those who have offered sacrifices,” Nasrallah said.
“This is a brave president who has said that this is a victory for Lebanon,” Nasrallah added, referring to Aoun's Army Day speech.
“As for PM Saad Hariri, he had agreed to the negotiations from the very beginning and was keen on their success. He offered all the necessary facilitation although some things would have embarrassed him” towards his popular base and the public opinion, Nasrallah said.
“He said that Hizbullah 'achieved something' in the outskirts and this is a step forward. The State acted responsibly which led to the completion of this victory,” Hizbullah's leader went on to say.
Nasrallah also lauded what he called “the remarkable efforts and strenuous and critical work that was exerted by General Security chief Major General Abbas Ibrahim,” who played a key role in the negotiations that involved the release of eight Hizbullah fighters who were in Nusra's captivity and the handover of a number of bodies.
Turning to the Lebanese army's expected offensive against Islamic State jihadists entrenched in the outskirts of the border towns of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa, Nasrallah warned IS' militants that “the Lebanese and Syrians will come for them from all sides.”
“You will not be able to resist. This is a losing battle and you will definitely lose and get killed, wounded or captured. You better do the right calculations and draw a lesson from al-Nusra who tried us instead of heeding the warnings,” Nasrallah warned, noting that there can be negotiations over nine Lebanese servicemen abducted by IS in 2014.
Nasrallah also noted that Hizbullah and the Syrian forces are ready to assist the Lebanese army in its expected assault against IS' militants in order to “lower the casualty toll” among the army's troops.
Separately, Nasrallah denied any role for Hizbullah in what Kuwait has dubbed an Iranian-backed terrorist cell known in the Gulf emirate as al-Abdali cell.
“I stress Hizbullah's keenness on the best relations between Lebanon and Kuwait and we acknowledge Kuwait's support for Lebanon and its assistance in the wake of the July War. We value and appreciate its stance and we don't want anything to harm the relation. We are ready to discuss any ambiguity through the diplomatic channels,” Nasrallah noted.
He also underlined that Hizbullah has not “sent, smuggled or stored weapons” in Kuwait, describing the accusations as baseless.
Kuwaiti Ambassador to Lebanon Abdul-Al al-Qinai has handed a letter of protest over Hizbullah's alleged involvement in the cell to Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and has held talks with PM Hariri and Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq over the issue.
The supreme court in Sunni-ruled Kuwait, which has a sizable Shiite minority, last month convicted 21 Shiites of forming a "terrorist cell" with ties to Iran and Hizbullah and plotting attacks in the Gulf state.
Kuwait has protested to Lebanon over the alleged training of the cell members by Hizbullah, which has ministers in the Lebanese government.
Earlier this month, Kuwaiti authorities expelled 15 Iranian diplomats and shut down the military, cultural and trade missions of the Iranian embassy in Kuwait over Tehran's backing of the "terrorist cell."
Iran said the allegation is baseless
Fourteen of the 21 convicted members are on the run. Local media said they fled to Iran by sea.
Around a third of Kuwait's native population of 1.35 million are Shiites.
04 August 2017, 21:36
Nasrallah said Hizbullah and the Syrian forces are ready to assist the Lebanese army in its expected assault against the IS group in order to "lower the casualty toll."
04 August 2017, 21:33
Nasrallah: We are very keen on the best relations between Lebanon and Kuwait and Hizbullah does not have any cells in Kuwait.
04 August 2017, 21:19
Nasrallah: I call on Lebanese politicians to draw lessons from these negotiations. This operation led to the transfer of hundreds of militants and thousands of families without international efforts. The guarantors on the ground were the Lebanese General Security and the Syrian regime.
04 August 2017, 21:14
Nasrallah: It is our ethical duty to thank President Assad, the Syrian leadership, the Syrian red crescent and anyone who exerted efforts on the ground to return our captives.
04 August 2017, 21:12
Nasrallah: The media has not been fair towards the Syrian army and its sacrifices on this front and we mist appreciate its sacrifices, martyrs and wounded.
04 August 2017, 21:09
Nasrallah: I laud the remarkable efforts and strenuous and critical work that were exerted by Major General Abbas Ibrahim.
04 August 2017, 21:07
Nasrallah said President Aoun and PM Hariri had agreed to and “facilitated” the negotiations that led to Nusra's withdrawal from Arsal's outskirts.
04 August 2017, 21:01
Nasrallah urged the government to negotiate with Damascus over the return of refugees, noting that Syria's government will offer "all the needed guarantees."
04 August 2017, 20:40
Nasrallah: I thank our people in al-Qaa who embraced and welcomed the freed captives and were partners in this achievement. It is my duty to reassure the rest of the families that we are closely and honestly following up on the issue of the bodies that are still with the militants, the IS-held captive and the rest of the missing fighters. I'm personally following up on the file.
04 August 2017, 20:36
Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in televised address: I congratulate the captives who have returned to freedom and to their homeland. I also congratulate and offer condolences to the families of all martyrs and I salute the wounded fighters.