A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

As US Debates Action in Syria, Nasrallah Says Hizbullah Won't Let Syria Fall

Amid growing debate about Syria in the US, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has acknowledged that Hizbullah fighters have been engaged alongside the Syrian Army against Syrian rebels, and promised that "Syria has real friends, in the region and the world, who will not let it fall in the hands of America, Israel, and Takfiri groups." (BBC account here; English version from Hizbullah's Al-Manar here.)  He acknowledged that Hizbullah had fought in the al-Qusayr area of Syria along the border. Asserting that some Lebanese in these villages were coming under attack and the Lebanese government could do nothing, he said that "We state clearly that we will not let the Lebanese in Al-Qusayr countryside stay subject to attacks by armed groups, and we will take all the necessary actions to preserve their steadfastness." He also charged that some Lebanese elements, presumably Sunni Islamists, are already engaged there against the Syrian Army.

While acknowledging Hiabullah had operated inside Syria, he denied that it had suffered high casualties as some Syrian rebels had claimed. "Lebanon is a small country, who could hide these numbers of martyrs? Throughout our path, we have not hidden the bodies of our martyrs or buried them gradually. We inform the family of any martyr who falls, and we escort him to grave the next day. We bury our martyrs publicly. We are not ashamed of our martyrs, specifically those who fell in the past couple of days…" He did not say how many martyrs that was, however.

He also warned strongly against Takfiri (Sunni extremist) threats to the shrine of Sayyida Zainab in the southern suburbs of Damascus. To quote Al-Manar:
Hezbollah secretary general indicated that "in Sayyeda Zainab region, where the shrine of Sayyed Zainab (as), daughter of Imam Ali (as), is located, some armed groups are present. This is a very sensitive issue, especially after Takfiri sides "announced that if they reached the place they will destroy it. In contrast, there are defenders of this holy shrine who are being martyred for that. Therefore, these (defenders) are actually preventing sedition, not inciting it."

He added: "It is not enough that the opposition and the so-called "Syrian Coalition" oppose the destruction of the holy shrine. Countries that support these groups must hold the responsibility of this crime if it takes place."

Sayyed Nasrallah warned: "If this crime falls, it will have serious repercussions."
Sayyida Zainab's tomb is a popular Shi‘ite shrine and pilgrimage destination south of Damascus. (For the Cairo hands among you, yes, Sayyida Zainab is also said to be buried in Cairo, but that site — though originally a Fatimid foundation — today is primarily accepted by Sunnis, who also venerate the Prophet's granddaughter.)

No comments: