ROCKET ATTACK ON BEIRUT ‘WARNING TO HEZBOLLAH’ says ‘The Free Syrian Army’

0
1095

THE missile attacks on Sunday on the suburbs of Beirut are only a warning to Hezbollah, the commander of the imperialist-backed ‘rebel’ Free Syrian Army group said on Sunday.

Speaking to the Lebanese satellite TV channel LBC, Ammar al-Wawi warned of the consequences of Hezbollah’s decision to fight alongside the Syrian Army in the Qusayr border area.

The intervention of hundreds of fighters of Hezbollah has given the regime the upper hand in Qusayr, a strategic central town in Syria across the border with Lebanon, that had been in ‘rebel’ hands.

Al-Wawi urged the Lebanese government to stop Hezbollah from intervening in Syrian affairs and hinted to possible attacks against Beirut, Tripoli and the Beirut airport.

Four people were wounded on Sunday when two rockets exploded in the Shi’ite-majority Hezbollah heartland of south Beirut, a Lebanese security source said.

‘Two Grad rockets hit the southern suburbs of Beirut. One rocket struck a car showroom where four people were wounded and vehicles were damaged,’ the source told reporters.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman denounced the attacks and described the perpetrators as ‘terrorists who don’t want to see peace and stability in Lebanon.’

It was the first time the Lebanese capital’s southern suburbs have been targeted during the two-year-old conflict in neighbouring Syria, where Hezbollah has thrown its military might into the regime’s fight against rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad.

Sunday’s blasts came just hours after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed ‘victory’ in Syria.

‘I say to all the honourable people, to the mujahideen, 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.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah would always stand by its ally Assad and his regime, stressing that its own interests were at stake.

Both rockets hit the Al-Shayyah area of Beirut.

The security source said the four wounded in the car showroom were all Syrian workers. The second rocket hit an apartment block and caused widespread damage but no casualties.

‘This incident is probably related to the conflict in Syria,’ the security source said.

He said the rockets were fired from Aitat in the Mount Lebanon area some eight miles southeast of where they hit.

‘The army is on the way to this area to investigate,’ the Lebanese security official said.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television channel broadcast live from Al-Shayyah in the capital, showing security forces and Interior Minister Marwan Charbel arriving at the scene of the blasts.

Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem landed in Baghdad on Sunday on an unannounced visit for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a senior Iraqi government official said.

It was unclear how long the visit would last and whether Muallem would meet with any other Iraqi officials.

‘The foreign minister of Syria, Walid Muallem, arrived in Baghdad at the head of a Syrian delegation,’ the official said. ‘He will meet Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.’

His visit comes after Iraq on Saturday launched a massive operation to better secure its western desert amid concerns it is being used by militants heading to fight against President Bashar Assad’s regime in neighbouring Syria.

Among the armed groups fighting Assad’s regime are terrorists allied to Al-Qaeda. That has fuelled fears in Baghdad of a spillover from war-torn Syria increasing tensions and violence in Iraq.

The more than two-year counter-revolutionary ‘uprising’ in Syria has reportedly left more than 94,000 people dead.

Iraq has sought to publicly avoid siding either with Assad’s regime or with ‘rebel’ forces, but it has been accused by Western governments of turning a blind eye in particular to Iranian overflights allegedly carrying military equipment for regime forces.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday vowed ‘victory’ in Syria, where militants of his powerful Lebanese Shi’ite movement are fighting alongside regular troops against rebels trying to topple the regime.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah would always stand by its allies in the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad, stressing that its own interests were at stake.

‘We will continue along the road. . . bear the responsibilities and the sacrifices,’ he said in a video-link of a speech delivered live on a huge screen.

‘This battle is ours. . . and I promise you victory,’ he said.

‘Syria is the rear guard of the resistance (Hezbollah’s fight with Israel), its backbone, and the resistance cannot stay with its arms folded when its rear guard is exposed.

‘We are idiots if we do not act,’ said Nasrallah who avoids appearing in public for security reasons.

Syrian forces launched an assault on the Qusayr border town almost a week ago but are still meeting with resistance from the West-backed armed gangs, for the town provides an important supply line for arms and terrorist volunteers from Lebanon.

Qusayr is important for Assad’s forces because of its strategic location between Damascus and the Mediterranean coast, the Alawite heartland of the embattled president’s regime.

Nasrallah ruled out any alliance with the ‘rebels’ battling the Syrian regime.

‘Hezbollah cannot be in the same trench as the United States, Israel, the takfiris (radical Muslims). . . who disembowel, behead and desecrate tombs,’ he said in reference to the vandalising of the shrine of a venerated Shi’ite saint.

Last Saturday marked the 13th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon after 22 years of occupation, which is one of Hezbollah’s victories over Israel.

Israel on Saturday had the nerve to accuse Syrian forces of trying to provoke conflict as the two sides rowed over responsibility for a border clash.

Tensions around the Golan Heights ceasefire zone between the two rivals have escalated since Syrian forces fired across the UN-patrolled ceasefire line and hit an Israeli military vehicle on Tuesday.

‘This week’s events are part of a disturbing pattern of events intended to spark provocation with Israel,’ said Israel’s UN ambassador Ron Prosor in a letter to the UN Security Council.

‘Responsibility for the event rests entirely with the government of Syria which instructed its troops to fire on the jeep.

‘Despite numerous complaints, they have persisted in these acts of aggression,’ Prosor added in the letter, which was released by Israel’s US mission.

‘We expect the international community to hold the government of Syria accountable for undermining international agreements and regional stability,’ Prosor said.

Israel says the shooting and other recent alleged incidents are a breach of the 1974 accord which set up the Golan ceasefire zone.

Other shells and fire from the Syrian side have landed inside Israel during the 24-month Syrian conflict and UN observers have been abducted at least three times by Syrian ‘rebels’ in incidents inside the zone.

In a rival letter to the 15-nation Security Council, Syria said the Israeli vehicle was targeted because it had crossed the ceasefire line and was heading toward a village where rebels had made a base.

Syria’s UN envoy Bashar Jaafari said President Bashar Assad’s forces would respond immediately to any other violation of its sovereignty. Syria expects the Security Council ‘to put an end to Israel’s violations,’ Jaafari said.

Jaafari said the Israeli vehicle had been headed for the village of Bir Ajam. ‘The presence of armed terrorist groups in that village led the Syrian armed forces to target the above-mentioned Israeli vehicle,’ he said.

Jaafari said Israel is interfering in Syrian affairs ‘through its provision of logistical support for armed terrorist groups in Syria, including those that are active in the area of separation of forces.’

Israel’s air force chief, Major General Amir Eshel, warned last Wednesday that tensions with Syria could escalate into a ‘surprise war’.