Beirut hit by rocket attack after Hezbollah vows ‘Syria victory’

Beirut hit by rocket attack after Hezbollah vows ‘Syria victory’

BEIRUT - Reuters
Beirut hit by rocket attack after Hezbollah vows ‘Syria victory’

Lebanese army soldiers investigate at a damaged room where a rocket struck an apartment in a building at Chiyah district, south of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday May 26, 2013. AP photo

Two rockets hit a Shiite Muslim district of southern Beirut earlier today and wounded several people, residents said, a day after the leader of Lebanese Shiite militant movement Hezbollah said his group would continue fighting in Syria until victory.

One rocket landed in a car sales yard next to a busy road junction in the Chiah neighborhood and the other hit an apartment several hundred meters away, wounding five people, residents said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility and the army said it was investigating who was behind the attack. A Lebanese security source said three rocket launchers were found, one of which had misfired or failed to launch, in the hills to the southeast of the Lebanese capital, about eight kilometers from the area where the two rockets landed.

‘Continue to the end’

It was the first attack to apparently target Hezbollah’s stronghold since the outbreak of the two-year conflict in neighboring Syria, which has sharply heightened Lebanon’s own sectarian tensions.

The rocket strikes came hours after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, a powerful supporter of President Bashar al-Assad, said his fighters were committed to the conflict whatever the cost. “I say to all the honourable people, to the mujahedeen, to the heroes: I have always promised you a victory and now I pledge to you a new one” in Syria, he said at a ceremony marking the 13th anniversary of Israel’s military withdrawal from Lebanon. “We will continue to the end of the road. We accept this responsibility and will accept all sacrifices and expected consequences of this position,” he said. “We will be the ones who bring victory.”

Until recently, Nasrallah insisted that Hezbollah had not sent militants to fight alongside al-Assad’s forces, but in his speech on May 25 he said it had been fighting in Syria for several months to defend Lebanon from radical Islamist groups he said were now driving Syria’s rebellion.

“This is an act of sabotage,” Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said for the rocket attacks, adding: “We hope that what is happening in Syria will not spill over into Lebanon.” Similarly to Charbel, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius issued a warning by saying “The war in Syria must not become the war in Lebanon.”

Fighters called on to 'defect'

ISTANBUL – Agence France-Presse

Syria’s main opposition group called May 26 on Hezbollah fighters to defect, as members of the Lebanese Shiite movement led an assault on Qusayr in central Syria.

Hezbollah, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, “repeats al-Assad’s grievous mistake of forcing his people to kill innocent Syrians, which will undoubtedly lead the honorable members of Hezbollah to defect and stand by the truth,” said a statement from the Syrian National Coalition.