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MIDEAST > Syrian rebels attack Hezbollah's positions in Lebanon: FSA commander

BEIRUT - Anatolia News Agency

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Free Syrian Army fighters prepare their weapons prior to an offensive at Nairab military airport and the international airport, controlled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo, February 19, 2013.A commander of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) said Syrian rebels had started to attack Lebanese Hezbollah Feb. 21. REUTERS photo

Free Syrian Army fighters prepare their weapons prior to an offensive at Nairab military airport and the international airport, controlled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo, February 19, 2013.A commander of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) said Syrian rebels had started to attack Lebanese Hezbollah Feb. 21. REUTERS photo

A commander of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) said Syrian rebels had started to attack Lebanon's Hezbollah Feb. 21, less than a day after the FSA chief of staff issued a 48-hour ultimatum warning the militant group to stop shelling territory held by the insurgents.

"We have bombed the territories of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria. The Free Syrian Army will continue bombing these positions," Col. Hisam al-Avvak of the Group of Free Officers, which operates under the umbrella of the FSA, told Anatolia news agency. Al-Avvak also threatened that the FSA would target Hezbollah strongholds in the south of Beirut unless Hezbollah stops its joint operations with the Syrian army forces.

Gen. Selim Idriss, the FSA chief of staff, said on Feb. 20 that Hezbollah had long been taking part in hostilities in Syria, but had gone too far by shelling villages near Qusayr in Homs province from the Bekaa valley in Lebanon.

The commander said the rebels were giving Hezbollah a 48-hour deadline to stop the attacks and "as soon as the ultimatum ends, we will start responding to the sources of fire." Rebels in the Qusayr area would be backed by FSA fighters "equipped with long-range weapons from other areas," he said.

The FSA had also asked the Lebanese president and premier to intervene, Idriss said, but the office of Prime Minister Najib Mikati denied any contact with the Syrian rebels.

Hezbollah has repeatedly denied sending fighters into Syria. Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, acknowledged in October 2012 that party members had fought Syrian rebels but said they were acting as individuals and not under the group's direction.



February/21/2013

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