Hizbullah Says 3 Dead, 14 Hurt in 'Self-Defense' in Syria as Opposition Slams 'Intervention' in Homsإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Three Lebanese Shiites have been killed in fighting in Syria, a Hizbullah official said Sunday, as the Syrian opposition accused the Lebanese group of intervening on the side of the regime.
"Two Lebanese Shiites living in Syria were killed and at least 14 others wounded in clashes with rebels," the official told Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity, later adding that one of the wounded had also died.
He said they were acting in "self-defense", without specifying if they were Hizbullah members.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the three slain Lebanese were members of pro-regime militias who had been trained by Hizbullah.
Earlier on Sunday, the main bloc of the Syrian opposition accused Hizbullah of "military intervention" in Syria, calling it a danger to regional peace and security.
The Syrian National Council (SNC) said members of the group on Saturday attacked "three Syrian villages in the Qusayr region near the Lebanese border."
The operation in Homs province led not only to "civilian casualties and the exodus of hundreds of people," but also "stoked sectarian tensions" in the area, the SNC said in a statement.
The SNC said Hizbullah was employing "heavy weapons openly and under the auspices of the Syrian regime army."
This is a "serious threat to Syrian-Lebanese relations and regional peace and security," it said, adding that the government of Prime Minister Najib Miqati has a responsibility to end this "aggression."
Later on Sunday, Louay al-Meqdad, spokesman for the Supreme Council of the Free Syrian Army, accused Hizbullah of shelling Syrian territory with artillery and rocket launchers from bases inside Lebanon.
“Hizbullah has deployed in five towns inside Syrian territory and it is combing the areas it has seized,” Meqdad told Future TV.
“Hizbullah has declared an open war against the Syrian people and we call on the Lebanese president (Michel Suleiman) to intervene,” he added.
Hizbullah and its allies in the ruling March 8 coalition back Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, but the March 14 opposition alliance supports the rebellion.
The Shiite party occasionally announces the death of one of its fighters killed "carrying out his jihadist duty," but without clarification.
In October 2012, Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged that party members had fought Syrian rebels, but said they were acting as individuals and not under the party's direction.
Nasrallah clarified that the Hizbullah fighters were killed while defending Lebanese-inhabited border towns inside Syria. He explained that there are 23 Syrian border towns and 12 farms that are inhabited by Lebanese residents of various religious beliefs, adding that around 30,000 Lebanese residents live in these towns.
“The residents of these towns took the decision to stay and defend themselves against the armed groups and did not engage in the battle between the regime and the opposition,” Hizbullah's leader added.
On Saturday, the Local Coordination Committees -- a grassroots network of activists on the ground in Syria -- reported fighting between rebels and members of Hizbullah around Qusayr.
It said they were trying to break into the rebel-held city, which has been under daily army bombardment for the past year.