Nasrallah: Abdullah Azzam Brigades Linked to Saudi Intelligence, Our Presence in Syria is Modest

Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday accused Saudi Arabia of being behind the deadly bombings that targeted the Iranian embassy in southern Beirut, denying that large numbers of Hizbullah fighters were killed in the Syrian war.

“We believe the statement in which the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack on the Iranian embassy, because it is a well-known group and its emir is Saudi and it is linked to the Saudi intelligence,” Nasrallah stated in an interview on OTV.

He elaborated: “The Iranian embassy bombing has to do with targeting Iran by those who consider it to be an enemy since 1979 and by those who teach at their institutes that it is an enemy.”

“The bombing has to do with the Saudi anger against Iran in the region.”

At least 25 people were killed and 150 wounded in twin suicide blasts that targeted the Iranian embassy in the Hizbullah stronghold of Bir Hassan on November 19.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the bombings, according to the Twitter page of a cleric linked to the group.

"The Abdullah Azzam brigades -- the Hussein bin Ali cells -- are behind the attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut," Sheikh Sirajeddine Zuraiqat, the group's religious guide, posted on Twitter.

Nasrallah denied during the interview reports saying huge numbers of Hizbullah fighters were involved in the Syrian war, stressing that the party has “very modest presence there.”

“We are not fighting on behalf of the Syrians,” he stated.

“There is not a single Hizbullah fighter in (the Syrian regions of) Daraa, Deir Ezzor, al-Raqqa, Hasakeh, Idlib, Latakia or Tartus. We have a limited presence in Homs and Damascus near the (Lebanese) border.”

He added: “Also, claims that we have lost 350 or 500 or 1,000 fighters in Eastern Ghouta are wishful thinking and there is not a single Hizbullah captive in Syria today and some bodies of martyrs are still missing.”

He detailed the early stages of Hizbullah's intervention in the Syrian war, noting that the fighters were not “immediately sent” to the neighboring country.

He explained: “We took gradual steps, which began in the towns inhabited by Lebanese residents in (the Syrian border region of) Qusayr. When the Syrian army retreated from these towns, the residents sought our help because shameful things had happened there. They had two options: the displacement of 30,000 people or defending their areas.”

“I must note that the Lebanese government did not offer any help,” Nasrallah added.

“Had it not been for Hizbullah's intervention in Qusayr's countryside, the armed groups would have invaded all these towns, but we went there and ended the battle,” he said.

Nasrallah continued: “The issue of the Sayyeda Zainab shrine obliged us to interfere in a minor manner in the battles in Damascus' countryside. We only sent 40 or 50 young men to help defend the shrine there.”

“And as time progressed, we had to increase the numbers (of fighters in Damascus) ahead of the major intervention in Qusayr.”

He also noted that entering Qusayr was not based on an Iranian decision.

“We took the decision and informed the Iranians of it,” he assured.

Turning to the issue of the stalled cabinet formation process, Nasrallah again underlined that “the 6-9-9 formula is the acceptable formula for the cabinet because it reserves everyone's rights."

"The majority of parties were with the 6-9-9 formula but Saudi Arabia ordered them not to form a cabinet," he added.

"We accepted a premier that they themselves nominated, so how can they accuse us of seeking political vacuum?" Nasrallah went on to say.

On the issue of the upcoming presidential election, Nasrallah said: "We are with holding the presidential election on time and let the parliament convene and elect a president and we are ready to contribute to the success of this juncture."

"Our camp must meet to discuss how to deal with this juncture and I believe that our camp must nominate a clear candidate for the presidency," he added.

Nasrallah also said that Hizbullah is willing to engage in national dialogue with the rival camp. "We always support the convention of the dialogue table and we are willing to sit with anyone and we believe that severing ties with anyone is not useful," he said.

Separately, Tuesday's interview kicked off with a discussion over the newly reached accord between the United States and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.

Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers held historic talks last month in Geneva, which culminated in the landmark agreement elusive for the past decade in freezing parts of Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

“According to the information I have, the Americans wanted to discuss other issues with Iran, and throughout history, the U.S. has always tried to discuss all issues as one package but the Iranians have always preferred to discuss one dossier at a time,” Nasrallah said on the negotiations.

Nasrallah stated that the first result of the agreement was lowering the possibility of war.

“The agreement has very important consequences and the first winner is people in the region, from the Gulf to the Middle East, because regional and international forces were pushing for the choice of war with Iran,” he said.

In a related matter, Hizbullah's leader accused Gulf countries of “antagonizing Iran.”

“But Iran has always been ready to engage in dialogue,” he expressed.

“I believe that there is a real problem with Saudi Arabia because all the attempts to open the door of dialogue have failed and the Saudis are the ones who are closing the doors.

Nasrallah elaborated: “If you monitor all the Saudi-financed media outlets, KSA's war against Iran has never stopped. Saudi Arabia waged wars against the Iranians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Gulf, Iraq and Syria, and of course through its proxies, because it does not dare to wage a direct war.”

“Saudi Arabia's problem with Iran is not of a sectarian nature, because it had problems with several Arab countries, and these countries are Sunni, not Shiite.”

He also noted that Saudi Arabia's war on Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is a “political war.”

“KSA wants to be the leader of the Muslim world and it does not accept any partners,” Nasrallah considered.

On Hizbullah's relation with Qatar, Nasrallah revealed that communication was not suspended with the Gulf country despite being at odds on several political issues.

He added: “We have met with a Qatari delegation in the past few days and we're still in a disagreement over Syria but we were not seeking problems with anyone, not even with Saudi Arabia.”

He continued: “We told the Qatari envoy that the military choice in Syria is futile and the attempt to oust (Syrian President Bashar) Assad militarily is an act of madness, that's why I call on all countries to contribute towards finding a political solution. We also spoke of neutralizing Lebanon in the Syrian crisis.”

“Qatar is reevaluating all its stances in the region,” Nasrallah pointed out.

Source: Naharnet

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