Lebanon leader cautions Hezbollah over Syria role

Lebanon leader cautions Hezbollah over Syria role

BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
Lebanon leader cautions Hezbollah over Syria role

Hezbollah supporters carry the coffin of a group member during his funeral. Lebanese President Sleiman cautioned the group over its fighting in Syria. REUTERS photo

Lebanon’s President Michel Sleiman cautioned the Shiite group Hezbollah on May 24 over its militia fighting alongside regime troops in neighboring Syria.

“The resistance is more noble and more important than anything, and should not get bogged down in the sands of dissension, whether in Syria or Lebanon,” he said in a statement, referring to Hezbollah’s traditional focus on fighting Israel.

“The resistance has fought and liberated (Israeli-occupied southern Lebanon) because it acts for a national cause and not a confessional one,” Sleiman added.

Dozens of Hezbollah fighters dead

The statement came as the militant group battled Syrian rebel fighters in the opposition stronghold of Qusair in central Homs province, where Syrian troops launched an assault last week. The fight has left dozens of Hezbollah fighters dead, according the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog and sources close to the group.

Lebanon is officially neutral over the conflict across its border, but the fighting has exacerbated tensions among its population. Hezbollah and its Lebanese allies have backed the regime of President Bashar al-Assad against the uprising that began in March 2011. But Lebanon’s opposition parties largely support the rebellion against the Syrian regime. Hezbollah has acknowledged that its fighters are inside Syria, and several Lebanese Sunni clerics have urged members of their community to join the Syrian conflict on the side of the rebels.