During his Wednesday Al-Manar TV appearance intended to prove he was still alive, Hezbollah boss Hassan Nasrallah accused Syrian rebels of attacking Lebanese Shiites living in Syrian villages and denied claims his own Shiite group had targeted insurgents across the border.
The Free Syrian Army last week threatened to shell Hezbollah positions after accusing it of firing from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon at villages under FSA control in the Syrian border region of Qusayr.
Nasrallah’s Hezbollah is one of the last remaining friends Syrian President Bashar Assad still has in the world.
“In this region, the mostly Shiite Lebanese residents, some of them members of Hezbollah… have not at any point controlled Sunni villages,” Nasrallah said.
“What’s happened is the opposite. The armed opposition has taken control of the villages inhabited by Lebanese Shiites in recent months, chased them out, and burned some houses.”
Nasrallah said those displaced had fled to the Hermel region of eastern Lebanon, while those remaining in the villages “have taken up arms to defend themselves and protect their properties, which is their right.”
“What has happened in the past few days… is a large military campaign by hundreds of armed men to chase the residents out of these villages,” added the Hezbollah chief, calling for “reconciliation” between the region’s inhabitants.
Lebanon is divided over the Syrian civil war, which has heightened sectarian tensions between Hezbollah and its allies who are backing the Assad regime and the Sunni-led March 14 opposition movement supporting the revolt.