First Published: 2013-02-20


Free Syrian Army threatens to hit Hezbollah positions in Lebanon


Syrian rebels accuse Hezbollah of firing across border into territory they control, sending combatants into Syria to fight alongside Assad forces.


Middle East Online

Shia-Sunna divide grows

BEIRUT - The rebel Free Syrian Army on Wednesday threatened to shell positions of the powerful Hezbollah militant group in neighbouring Lebanon after accusing it of firing across the border into territory it controls.

"In the past week... Hezbollah has been shelling into villages around Qusayr from Lebanese territory, and that we cannot accept," General Selim Idriss, the FSA's chief of staff, said on the phone, adding that the rebels have given Hezbollah a 48-hour deadline to stop the attacks.

Lebanon is sharply divided over the Syrian conflict, with the Sunni-led March 14 movement supporting the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad and the Shiite Hezbollah and its allies backing the regime.

"Hezbollah has long been sending combatants into Syria to fight alongside Bashar al-Assad's forces, and we just fight them on our territory," said Idriss.

"But what we cannot accept is that Hezbollah is abusing Lebanese sovereignty to shell Syrian territory and Free Syrian Army positions," said the rebel commander.

Specifically, he accused Hezbollah of shelling villages and rebel positions around the insurgent-held town of Qusayr, which is located in the central Syrian province of Homs.

Idriss said that Hezbollah had fired into villages around Qusayr from the border village of Zeita, a Hezbollah stronghold in the Bekaa valley of eastern Lebanon.

"As soon as the ultimatum ends, we will start responding to the sources of fire," he said.

While fighters in the Qusayr area would fire back, Idriss also said the FSA would "mobilise fighters equipped with long-range weapons from other areas."

On Sunday, three Lebanese Shiites were killed in clashes in Syria, a source close to Hezbollah said, as the opposition accused the militant group of fighting alongside its regime allies.

Just hours earlier, the main bloc of the Syrian opposition accused the Damascus ally of having intervened "militarily" on the side of the regime, and warned this posed a threat to ties between neighbours Syria and Lebanon.

Hezbollah has systematically denied sending fighters into Syria, though its leader Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged in October 2012 that party members had fought Syrian rebels but said they were acting as individuals and not under the group's direction.


Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

Pro-Turkish forces loot Afrin

Iraqis flock to flea market for relics of bygone era

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits

What a ‘limited strike’ against Syria’s Assad might mean

Natural gas in eastern Mediterranean fuels increasing tensions

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting

36 jihadists killed in Egypt’s Sinai

Israel arrests French consulate worker for gun smuggling

Israel prepares to demolish Jerusalem attacker's home

Saudi crown prince says his country to seek nuclear bomb if Iran does

Arab women artists in diaspora focus on identity and loss

Tunisia’s Central Bank targets inflation but may hurt growth prospects

Libya’s health system reflects a larger humanitarian crisis

Israel blasts Gaza underground tunnel

Abu Dhabi awards France's Total stakes in oil concessions

Erdogan says Afrin city centre under ‘total’ control

Egypt tries to contain Sudan but challenges, suspicions remain

US defence secretary presses Oman on Iran weapons smuggling

Syrian regime retakes two towns from Ghouta rebels

Hamas shutters mobile firm after Gaza attack on PM

Israel punishes family members of West Bank attacker

Syria opposition says UN 'failed to prevent' Assad 'crimes'

UK tries to soothe Egyptian anger over mob attack death

Hundreds of thousands flee in dual Syria assaults

Turkish Cypriots vow to stand firm in gas dispute

Intensifying assaults in Syria spark dual evacuations

Tearful reunions, uncertain fates for Syrians fleeing Ghouta