US demands Hezbollah withdraw from Syria

2013-05-30 07:59
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - The United States demanded the immediate withdrawal of Hezbollah fighters from Syria on Wednesday, saying their active role in combat there was an "extremely dangerous escalation".

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah confirmed last week that the Lebanon-based Shi’ite movement was actively fighting on the side of its close ally, Syria's President Bashar Assad, in the Syrian town of Qusayr near the border.

"This is an unacceptable and extremely dangerous escalation. We demand that Hezbollah withdraw its fighters from Syria immediately," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

Hezbollah fighters spearheaded an assault that cut off Syrian rebel fighters, drawing condemnation from the UN human rights body.

In Geneva, 36 of the 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council voted in favour of a resolution that implicitly refers to the involvement of Hezbollah fighters from neighbouring Lebanon in the fierce battle for Qusayr.

The non-binding text put forward by the United States, Turkey and Qatar "condemns the intervention of foreign combatants fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime in al-Qusayr".

Lebanon stability

Psaki also condemned the "outrageous attack" on a Lebanese army checkpoint near the border on Tuesday that killed three soldiers.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, which was condemned by the Lebanese government and Hezbollah.

"These and other incidents are stark reminders that the conflict in Syria poses an incredibly dangerous threat to Lebanon's stability, the people of Lebanon and security," she said.

"We call on all parties to do their part to act with restraint and respect Lebanon's stability and security."

Hezbollah, which battled Israeli forces for nearly two decades before their 2000 withdrawal from Lebanon, had long insisted its arsenal of rockets and other weapons would only be used to defend Lebanon from its southern neighbour.

But Nasrallah has said the group must now defend Assad's regime against an uprising increasingly dominated by hard-line Sunni Islamists who view Shi’ites and Assad's offshoot Alawite sect as apostates.

Hezbollah in Syria

Hezbollah's involvement in Syria has raised fears the conflict could spill over into Lebanon, where deadly clashes between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime have periodically erupted in the northern city of Tripoli.

Syria has long been a crucial conduit for arms supplied to Hezbollah by its chief patron Iran. Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and some Palestinian groups view themselves as an axis of "resistance" against Israel and the West.

Hezbollah is believed to have sent at least 1 700 fighters to Qusayr more than a week ago to support the regime's assault on the rebel stronghold. France estimates that 3 000 to 4 000 Hezbollah fighters are operating in Syria.

Hundreds of civilians have reportedly been killed in Qusayr and thousands could be trapped. The United Nations estimates that more than 70 000 people have been killed since the initially peaceful uprising began in March 2011.

The State Department noted progress on the diplomatic front for an international peace conference that would include representatives of the Syrian regime and the opposition. Iran's possible participation in the talks has not yet been decided.

"Iran has not played a constructive role in regard to Syria," Psaki said.

"They have sent weapons. They have sent money. They have provided fighters. They have financed Hezbollah. And we have no reason to believe that Iran wants a peaceful transition."

Tehran has indicated that it has obtained an oral invitation to participate in the conference, dubbed Geneva II.

Read more on:    un  |  hezbollah  |  bashar assad  |  hassan nasrallah  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.


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.