Hezbollah leadership not involved in HARIRI murder says UN-backed court

Demonstrators condemn of the US attack on the Syrian army checkpoint in Tal al-Zahab

THE SPECIAL Tribunal for Lebanon has not found evidence that the leadership of Hezbollah was involved in the 2005 murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, judge David Re said on Tuesday when reading out the decision.

‘The trial chamber is of the view that Syria and Hezbollah may have had motives to eliminate Mr. Hariri and his political allies, however there is no evidence that the Hezbollah leadership had any involvement in Mr. Hariri’s murder and there is no direct evidence of Syrian involvement,’ he said.

Just one of the four men accused of killing the former Lebanese prime minister has been convicted by the special UN-backed court based on the outskirts of The Hague in The Netherlands.

Salim Ayyash and the others, all from Hezbollah, had been on trial in absentia since 2014.

Ayyash was found guilty of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, murdering Hariri, murdering 21 others and attempting to murder 226 more in the suicide car bombing on 14 February.

The judges said evidence showed Ayyash had possessed one of six mobile phones used by the team which assassinated Hariri.

Alongside Ayyash, the three other defendants – Hussein Hassan Oneissi, Assad Hassan Sabra and Hassan Habib Merhi – were acquitted.

A fifth man, Mustafa Badreddine, the commander of Hezbollah’s military wing, was dropped from the indictment after he was killed in Syria in 2016.

Meanwhile, Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has affirmed that the victory over Israel in July 2006  war foiled the New Middle East Project and US, Israeli plots that targeted the region, thanking Syria and Iran for their role to achieve the victory.

‘We bless all Lebanese on the victory and thank all who played a role in making this steadfastness, victory legend and for all countries which stood by Lebanon particularly Syria and Iran,’ Sayyed Nasrallah said in a speech last Saturday to mark the 14th anniversary of July war victory over Israel.

He thanked the Syrian leadership and people for hosting the displaced Lebanese during the war.

Sayyed Nasrallah clarified that directly after the explosion of Beruit port, there were some sides who sought to topple the state, not the government, calling for the formation of a national unity government and if that is not possible, the government must contain the widest political representation.

He added “we call for a strong and politically protected government that is able to assume responsibility.

President Bashar al-Assad on Monday received Senior Assistant to Iranian Foreign Minister for Special Political Affairs Ali Asghar Khaji and the accompanying delegation.

Talks during the meeting dealt with the latest developments in Syria and the developments of the political track with the approach of the meeting of the Committee of Discussing the Constitution in Geneva and viewpoints converged as President al-Assad affirmed that Syria will go forwards in this track despite of the attempts of some parties to divert the committee from its tasks and the purposes of its formation and to change the mechanisms of its work.

The two sides also discussed means to enhance cooperation between the two countries to face the siege imposed by the US and its allies against Syria, and the possible choices to deal with it and with its repercussions with the help of the friendly and allied countries and whoever rejects the hacking practices adopted by the US under fake names and titles to stifle the Syrian people.

The Iranian side underlined the importance of deepening the level of the economic cooperation between the two countries to face this siege.

During the meeting, the Iranian side also congratulated the Syrian people and leadership for the achievement of the latest parliamentary elections, as head of the Iranian delegation affirmed that holding these elections in this time proves the adherence of the Syrian people to their land and state and their keenness on participating in the important constitutional events despite of all the circumstances which they are passing through.

In the same context, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem discussed on Monday afternoon with Asghar Khaji and the accompanying delegation the relations between the two countries and the current state of the regional and international arenas

The two sides expressed satisfaction over the continuing and accelerating development in the strategic relations between the two countries in all fields in a manner that enhances their  ability to confront the mutual challenges they are facing by exchanging expertise and  capabilities, which would enable them to overcome difficulties caused by the Coronavirus epidemic and the repercussions of the economic terrorism practiced by US and its allies.

The two sides agreed to continue coordination and consultation regarding all developments and events.

In a statement to journalists after the meeting, the Iranian official expressed his confidence that Syria will pass this stage with steadfastness of its people, affirming his country’s support to the country in all difficulties that face it , saying that the Americans have to know that they can’t impose on Syria what they couldn’t impose on it by military force

Asghar Khaji went on to say that the continuation of meetings and consultations regarding the meetings of the Committee of Discussing the constitution in Geneva the next week Astana meeting, describing the current talks and agreements topics of those meetings as ‘valuable.’

He pointed out to the importance of the commitment to the goals of forming of the Committee of Discussing the constitution, as an foreign party has no right to interfere in the work of the Committee, and it is not permissible to impose any dictates on its work  or setting a time for any meeting.

The Iranian official added that his country’s participation in Geneva meeting doesn’t mean attending and participating in the Committee of Discussing the constitution, because the meetings are Syrian-Syrian.

As for Iran’s stance toward the agreements related to Idlib and the Turkish occupation’s procrastination in executing Sochi agreements, Asghar Khaji affirmed that his country demanded all Parties to implement the agreements fully and accurately.

He stressed Iran’s rejection of any illegal presence on the Syrian territory.

Meanwhile, US occupation warplanes have attacked a checkpoint for the Syrian Arab Army southeast of Qamishli as a soldier was martyred and two others were injured.

Protesters in Tal al-Zahab in Qamishli countryside condemned the US attack against the Syrian Arab Army checkpoint, calling for resisting the US occupation, rallying around the Syrian Arab Army and activating the role of the popular resistance to expel the occupation forces which violates the Syrian sovereignty and loots the country’s resources.

The participants chanted slogans demanding to expel the US and Turkish occupation forces from Syrian territories and they burnt the  American flag in rejection of any US illegitimate presence in Syria, asserting that the US attack against a Syrian Arab Army checkpoint is considered as a treachery against all Syrian people and as a ‘specific offence.’

Head of the Council of Elders and Dignitaries of Syrian Clans and Tribes Sheikh Mizar al-Muslat described the US attack against a Syrian Arab Army checkpoint as a ‘flagrant violation and a specific hostility against the Syrian people.’

For his part, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Jazeera and Euphrates Mor Maurice Amsih reiterated that the US attack against the Army’s checkpoint is a ‘hostility’, asserting that all the foreign forces which had entered the Syrian territories illegitimately will be expelled, on top of them the US and Turkish occupation forces.

During the protest, the Council of Elders and Dignitaries of Syrian Clans and Tribes issued a statement in which it called on all the citizens in the Syrian al-Jazeera to resist the US occupation, denouncing the US attack as a hostility against the Syrian soldiers who we are so proud with them, vowing to respond through the popular resistance.

Elsewhere a civilian was martyred and  others were injured as gunmen of the US occupation-backed QSD militia have fired at the locals of al-Rez village in Deir Ezzor eastern countryside.

Civil sources told SANA reporter on Tuesday that the locals in al-Rez village in Deir Ezzor eastern countryside clashed with gunmen affiliated to US occupation-backed QSD militia which has brought in military reinforcements to the village and opened fire directly at the locals, causing the martyrdom of a civilian and injury of others, in addition to  burning of a car.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin on Monday discussed with President of the Turkish regime, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the situation in Syria and Libya.

According to Sputnik News Agency, the Kremlin said in a statement that President Putin made a phone call with Erdogan, during which talks dealt with the necessity of increasing coordination to achieve agreements and understandings about the de-escalation zone in Idleb.