Hezbollah Pledges to Keep Fighting in Syria
Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah has vowed to continue fighting alongside the Assad regime in Syria's bloody civil war, as the conflict approaches its fourth year.
At a ceremony in the Beirut suburb and Hezbollah stronghold of Ouzai, the Iranian-backed group's second-in-command, Sheikh Naim Qassem, struck a familiar chord, branding Syrian rebels "takfiris" - a derogatory word for Sunni Muslim extremists.
"We will continue our work and remain in the field committed to our political stances. We will remain fighting where we are fighting. We are a resistance wherever we are: a resistance against Israel and its agents and a resistance fighting in Syria in defense of the resistance," Qassem declared according to the Daily Star.
"Our heads will remain raised high, as we combat the takfiris and those behind them. We will be victorious in the end, wait and see," he added.
But he acknowledged that the group's involvement had come at a cost.
"This war they are waging against us requires sacrifices and we are working with all our might to lessen its repercussions and pains. In this war, there will be sacrifices but we should not be afraid to make them," he said.
Those comments were a reference to the enormous backlash Hezbollah has faced from Sunni Muslims over its role in the Syrian civil war, with the Shia Islamist group finding itself in the crosshairs of a deadly bombing campaign by Al Qaeda-linked groups. The most recent attack occurred earlier this month in the Lebanese capital, killing five people.
In November of last year Sunni Islamists claimed a high-profile attack on the embassy of Iran, key backers of both Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad. That attack left 23 people dead, including the cultural attaché of the embassy Ebrahim al-Ansari.
But Qassem denied Hezbollah was to blame for bringing the sectarian violence which has wracked Syria to Lebanon, and blamed the group's political rivals for "harboring takfiris" and aiding Israel.
"We ask March 14 group not to provide cover for the takfirirs or a secure environment or justify their acts," he said, a reference to the anti-Syrian March 14 alliance.
"We ask them to stop targeting the resistance, giving Israel a free service... We ask them to return to the state and stop disrupting its institutions,” he added.