Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah claimed responsibility on Wednesday for explosions which wounded four Israeli soldiers who infiltrated into southern Lebanon last week.
Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai reports that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad has moved chemical weapons from a base near the capital Damascus to the port city of Tartus, raising fears that they could fall into the hands of extremist groups like Hezbollah. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanese-based Hezbollah, insists that his organization doesn’t have chemical weapons and that it wouldn’t use them since Islamic law forbids them. Lebanese newspaper Al-Nahar reports that Nasrallah’s words may have come at the urging of a Russian envoy who recently travelled to Beirut to warn him against accepting the weapons. Israeli authorities have expressed concerns that fighting may spill over from Syria into Israeli controlled territories in the Golan Heights, where chemical weapons could be used by militant groups against Israeli targets. Many fear that growing desperation among Assad and his supporters may drive the regime to use them against the opposition. Last month, US President Barack Obama issued a strong warning that the White House would consider military intervention if Assad deploys or uses chemical weapons. Others speculate that Assad is moving the weapons to Tartus since it is in one of the few regions where Assad’s Alawite sect makes up the majority. King Abdullah II of Jordan has told American television network CBS that he believes Assad could try to create a mini-state in the Alawite stronghold if he loses control of the capital.
Another Hezbollah speech, another bellicose anti-Israel rant, just as you might expect from the militant group founded in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. And Hezbollah’s closest ally and biggest backer Iran has restated its official position too: if Israel attacks the Islamic Republic over its alleged nuclear weapons programme, Hezbollah will retaliate on its behalf — leader Hasan Nasrallah claims that targets will not just be within Israel, but that they’ll hit American military bases across the Middle East too. But is the rhetoric more overblown than usual? Here at Hezbollah’s propaganda playground, the ‘Museum for Resistance Tourism’ in southern Lebanon, you’d be forgiven for thinking not. Collected Israeli tanks and weaponry are displayed as easy trophies, showing astute political and military disdain for the militant organisation’s raison d’etre and enemy number one [Israel]. Mleeta also displays Hezbollah’s own weaponry, and the site itself played an integral part in the militant group’s history: it used to be home to a series of fortified hideouts for some of Hezbollah’s most dedicated warriors, including deadly suicide brigades. Yet many in Lebanon think that Hezbollah’s influence is on the wane. This summer a Sunni cleric brought the southern city of Sidon to a standstill for a month with sit-in protests and roadblocks calling for Hezbollah to disarm. Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmad Assir: “Many times before we have asked to discuss the weapons …
Hezbollah militant leader Hassan Nasrallah has been snubbed on his birthday by Facebook, the world’s most popular social media website. After a couple of thousand supporters joined an event in honour of the Hezbollah chief’s 52nd birthday, it was quickly removed just hours later. Nasrallah has frequently delivered vitriolic speeches about Israel, typically advocating the destruction of the Jewish state. Lebanese-based Hezbollah is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, in addition to being monitored closely by a number of European countries. Al-Manar, the media outlet widely thought to have close ties with the Islamist group, is also facing a social media crackdown, having been blocked by Google, Apple and Facebook.