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Hezbollah chief promises 'victory' in Syria conflict

May 25, 2013 8:31 P.M. (Updated: May 27, 2013 11:44 A.M.)
BEIRUT (AFP) -- Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday vowed "victory" in Syria, where militants of his powerful Lebanese Shiite movement are fighting alongside regular troops against rebels trying to topple the regime.

"I say to all the honorable people, to the mujahedin, 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 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.

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.

Syrian forces launched an assault on Qusayr almost a week ago but are still meeting with fierce resistance from the rebels, for the town provides an important supply line for arms and volunteers from Lebanon.

Qusayr is a key prize 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 mostly Sunni Muslim rebels battling the Syrian regime.

"Hezbollah cannot be in the same trench as the United States, Israel, the takfirist (radical Muslims)... who disembowel, behead and desecrate tombs," he said of reports that rebels had vandalized the shrine of a venerated Shiite saint.

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