Nasrallah: We have 100,000 trained fighters

Hezbollah leader: We have prepared our fighters with their diverse weapons to defend our territory, our oil and gas.

Elad Benari ,

Hassan Nasrallah
Hassan Nasrallah

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared for the first time on Monday that his group has 100,000 trained fighters, The Associated Press reports.

Nasrallah’s remarks came in a speech appeared to be meant as a deterrent to domestic foes following the nation’s worst internal violence in years.

“We have prepared (those fighters) with their diverse weapons to defend our territory, our oil and gas that is being robbed before the eyes of Lebanese, to protect the dignity and sovereignty of our country from any aggression (and) terrorism and not for internal fighting,” Nasrallah said, according to AP.

In his speech, Nasrallah accused the head of a right-wing Christian party, Samir Geagea, of seeking to ignite civil war in Lebanon.

Addressing Geagea directly, Nasrallah said: “Don’t miscalculate. Be wise and behave. Learn a lesson from all your wars and all our wars.”

Nasrallah’s speech followed gun battles on the streets of Beirut this past Thursday, in which seven people were killed. The incident was the worst street violence the city has seen in years and erupted over the probe into last year’s massive port blast in the city.

It is difficult to verify the 100,000 fighters figure as Hezbollah is largely secretive. If true, it would be larger than the size of Lebanon’s armed forces, estimated at about 85,000.

The speech came at a time of heightened tension in Lebanon over the clashes and the course of the investigation into the August 4, 2020 blast in which over 215 people were killed.

Nasrallah accused Geagea of “manufacturing” Thursday’s clashes and described him as a criminal and a killer.

“The real program for the Lebanese Forces is civil war,” Nasrallah said, according to AP. “The biggest threat to the social peace in Lebanon is the Lebanese Forces.”

Geagea is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, which is critical of Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, which has a powerful political presence in Lebanon, has been trying to influence the situation in the country by arranging for shipments of Iranian fuel to be sent to Lebanon in an attempt to solve the continued fuel crisis which paralyzed the country.

The overland delivery through neighboring Syria violates US sanctions imposed on Tehran after former President Donald Trump pulled America out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has criticized the Iranian fuel shipments imported by Hezbollah, saying they constitute a breach of Lebanon's sovereignty.