Hezbollah appeals for calm in Lebanon

2012-05-23 09:04

Beirut - The leader of Lebanon's Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah has appealed for calm after people blocked roads and burned tires in Beirut to protest the kidnapping of 11 Lebanese Shi'ites in neighbouring Syria.

Tuesday's abductions in Syria's northern Aleppo province threatened to ignite dangerous sectarian tensions and fuelled fears that Lebanon is getting drawn into the chaos next door.

The Lebanese were on their way home from a religious pilgrimage in Iran when Syrian rebels intercepted their vehicles, Syria's state-run SANA news agency said. The rebels abducted the 11 men and a Syrian driver. The women were released.

Lebanese security officials confirmed the kidnapping.

As the news of the kidnappings spread, residents of the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Shi'ite area, took to the streets and burned tires and blocked roads in protest.

The leader of Hezbollah, a strong ally of the Syrian regime, appealed for calm and warned his followers against revenge attacks targeting Syrians.

Standing by Assad

"This is strictly prohibited," Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

He said the Lebanese government must press for the pilgrims' release.

"We will work day and night until these beloved people are with us," Nasrallah said.

Hezbollah has stood by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as he struggles to put down a 15-month-old uprising.

Sunnis form the backbone of the Syrian revolt, which has unleashed boiling sectarian tensions. Assad and the ruling elite in Syria belong to the tiny Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ism.

Within hours of the kidnappings, the Syrian government began moving into Azaz in Aleppo province, where the abductions took place, activists said.

Serious fighting

Syria's uprising began in March 2011 with mostly peaceful calls for reform, but the government's brutal crackdown on dissent led many in the opposition to take up arms. The UN estimates more than 9 000 people have been killed as the conflict spirals toward civil war.

Tuesday's kidnappings come at a time of deep tension in Lebanon over Syria. The countries share a complex web of political and sectarian ties and rivalries, which can quickly turn violent. The conflict already has spilled across the border, with deadly results.

Lebanese Sunni groups supporting and opposing the Damascus regime fired rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns in Beirut early on Monday, killing at least two people. It was among the most serious fighting in the capital since 2008.

The spark for the violence was the killing on Sunday of Sheik Ahmed Abdul-Wahid, an anti-Syrian Sunni cleric, and his bodyguard in northern Lebanon.

A Lebanese soldier shot the men, apparently after they failed to stop at an army checkpoint. The killing fuelled deep anger over the perceived support of some of Lebanon's security forces for the Syrian regime.

Syria had troops on the ground in Lebanon for nearly 30 years until 2005 and still has strong ties to Lebanon's security services.

Forced to confess

Earlier this month, the arrest of Shadi Mawlawi, an outspoken Lebanese critic of Assad, set off several days of clashes in northern Lebanon that killed eight people. Mawlawi was accused of belonging to a terrorist group.

On Tuesday, authorities released him from jail on $330 bail, a move many hoped would defuse tensions.

During a news conference in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, Mawlawi said he was "subjected to psychological pressure and torture" following his 12 May arrest and was forced to give false confessions that he was connected to terror groups.

Mawlawi denies any links to such groups.

As he spoke, supporters at the news conference lashed out at the Syrian regime, saying, "Assad is the enemy of God."

- SAPA

Read more on:    bashar al-assad  |  lebanon  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

'Zuma's legacy will be judged by Nkandla'

The legacy of President Jacob Zuma is contingent on how he deals with the issue of upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, says Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9780

BlackBerry 6 Engage your world with BlackBerry 6 OS on the...

From R3049.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.