Nasrallah Warns Arsal Outskirts Militants, Urges Govt. to Talk to Damascus
Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday warned the jihadist militants in the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal that “there is not much time left for settlements,” hinting that his group might soon launch a military campaign in the area.
“I laud and express my huge appreciation of the mighty efforts that the army and various Lebanese security agencies are exerting,” said Nasrallah in a televised address on the latest developments.
“The Lebanese are enjoying security and stability, not because Daesh (Islamic State group), al-Qaida and al-Nusra (Front) do not want to stage bombings in Lebanon, but rather because strenuous efforts have been exerted to bust the cells and their financiers, supporters and officials, the last of which was what the Intelligence Directorate unveiled in Arsal,” he noted.
“Had these cells and would-be suicide bombers been able to carry out their plots, the security, economic and tourism situations would have been very difficult. What happened in Arsal, what the army and the resistance fighters are doing have lowered the risks without fully eliminating them,” Nasrallah pointed out.
And apparently referring to the abuse allegations that the army faced after the latest crackdown in Arsal’s refugee encampments, Nasrallah admitted that “mistakes might happen” but that they “should not be exploited to stab those protecting people’s security in the back.”
He warned that “there is a real problem in the outskirts” of Arsal and other border towns.
“Some of the suicide bombers come from there and the bombs and threats are still present there. This issue needs a solution. This might be a controversial point but let the government shoulder the responsibility and we would support it and assist it. I believe that the file has reached its final phase and this is the last time I will be talking about it,” Nasrallah said.
“It’s about time we put an end to the threat of the militant groups in Arsal’s outskirts and there’s not much time left for settlements and reconciliations,” the Hizbullah leader went on to say.
Turning to the issue of returning Syrian refugees in Lebanon to their country, Nasrallah denied that his party is seeking to play a “political role” in this regard.
“Some said that the Lebanese government’s communication with the Syrian regime would grant legitimacy to this regime, but this is incorrect, seeing as the Syrian government has ambassadors in most countries and some are negotiating with it secretly and publicly. The French president has acknowledged Assad’s legitimacy, so the government’s negotiation with its Syrian counterpart would not stand for giving them (Syrians) legitimacy because they don’t need it,” Nasrallah emphasized.
He stressed that “no one wants to force the refugees to return to Syria.”
“We’re rather speaking of a voluntary return and about guarantees and assistance that would be granted to the refugees… If you (Lebanese government) don’t negotiate you’d be giving us a political role but we don’t want it. We believe that the refugees’ return to Syria would achieve the interests of the refugees themselves and the interest of the Lebanese people, that’s why we have called for this, based on humanitarian, social, ethical, security and economic reasons,” added Nasrallah.
“We hope al-Mustaqbal Movement is not thinking of prolonging the plight of the Syrian refugees and Lebanese citizens for the sake of receiving foreign aid,” he said.
And calling on the government to discuss the refugee issue with the Syrian government, Nasrallah reassured that “there are guarantees and a lot of safe and stable areas in Syria that the refugees can be returned to.”