Syria rebels warn Hezbollah fight role 'declaration of war'
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
Members of the Lebanese pro-Syrian Popular Committees stand on the Lebanon-Syria border, Lebanon, Friday, April 12, 2013. AP PhotoHezbollah's role in fighting in the central Syrian province of Homs is a "declaration of war against the Syrian people," the newly appointed head of the opposition National Coalition warned on Monday.
"What is happening in Homs is a declaration of war against the Syrian people and the Arab League should deal with it on this basis," George Sabra said shortly after the opposition bloc announced his appointment as interim chief.
"The Lebanese president and the Lebanese government should realise the danger that it poses to the lives of Syrians and the future relations between the two peoples and countries," he added.
The remarks came shortly after the opposition announced Sabra would take on the Coalition leadership on an interim basis after the resignation of Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib.
His condemnation of the role of the Lebanese Shiite group follows reports that elite fighters from the organisation were taking the lead in the Syrian regime's battle against rebel fighters in the Qusayr area of Homs.
The area, near the Lebanese border, has been the scene of fierce fighting in recent days, with regime troops capturing a string of strategic villages in the area and raising rebel concerns that the town of Qusayr, an opposition stronghold, could also fall.
"It's Hezbollah that is leading the battle in Qusayr, with its elite forces," Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.
The area is considered strategically important because it lies near the Lebanese border and the highway connecting Damascus to the coast.
Hezbollah says actions in Syria 'national, moral duty'
A senior Hezbollah leader has defended the group's actions in Syria as a "national and moral duty" to defend Lebanese inside the war-torn country, Lebanon's National News Agency reported on Monday.
Speaking at a ceremony mourning a Hezbollah fighter killed in Syria, the vice-president of the group's executive council Sheikh Nabil Qauk evoked the plight of Lebanese citizens living in a string of villages inside Syria.
"What Hezbollah is doing with regard to this issue is a national and moral duty in the defence of the Lebanese in border villages," the official news agency quoted Qauk as saying.
"To those who ask us to allow our brothers in these border villages to be victims of murders, kidnaps, massacres and expulsions, I respond to you: 'Can we leave these Lebanese hostage to this situation?" he added.
"Hezbollah's martyrs are the martyrs of the entire nation because they are defending their Lebanese compatriots," he said.