BEIRUT -In speech marking the 6th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah renewed his support Wednesday for the regime of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad and praised the three generals killed in a bombing in Damascus, describing them as comrades-in-arms to the resistance party.
In a televised speech addressing a mass rally organized by Hezbollah at Al-Raya Stadium in Beirut’s southern suburbs marking the sixth anniversary of the 2006 war with Israel, Nasrallah said Syria under Assad was the main backer of the resistance against Israel, not only at the popular and political level, but also at the military level.
"In the war, the most valuable weapons we had in our possession were from Syria. The missiles we used in the Second Lebanon War were made in Syria. And it's not only in Lebanon but in Gaza as well. Where did these missiles come from? The Saudi regime? The Egyptian regime? These missiles are from Syria."
Nasrallah referred directly to the top Syrian officials who were killed, Defense Minister Daoud Rajha and his deputy Assef Shawkat. "When Gaza had nothing to eat Syria sent missiles and food. Rajha and Shawkat symbolize the Syria which helped the resistance in Palestine. While other Arab regimes blocked the transfer of food and donations to Gaza, it was Syria that sent food and weapons to Gaza and took a chance. This is the Syria of Bashar Assad, this is the Syria of the martyr leaders. We denounce this blow which only serves the interests of the enemy."
"These martyrs were our comrades-in-arms, in the resistance and in our struggle against the Israeli enemy. The Syrian army has many leaders which can shatter their enemies' hopes," added Nasrallah.
A bombing claimed the lives of Assad’s brother-in-law, his defense minister and a former defense minister, in the boldest attack in the 16-month revolt against Assad’s regime. The attack was claimed by both the rebel Free Syrian Army and an Islamist group.
Nasrallah spoke of “an American-Israeli plan” to crush the resistance in Lebanon, topple the Assad regime and destroy the Syrian Army. “But the resistance’s victory in Lebanon in 2006 had foiled the plan,” he said.
He reiterated his call for dialogue between the regime and opposition groups to solve the crisis in Syria.
“We renew our call for the protection of Syria, its people and army. The only solution is through the acceptance of dialogue and this should be done swiftly,” Nasrallah said.
“We are confident that the Syrian army, which has had to cope with the intolerable, has the ability, determination and resolve to endure and foil the enemies’ hopes,” Nasrallah added.
The Hezbollah chief placed the Syrian crisis within the context of what he described as a long-term policy by the U.S. and Israel to strip Arab states of real military capabilities. “They just want a police force,” he said, noting that one of the U.S. military’s first acts in Iraq following the conquest of Baghdad was to disband the military. He said this plan served only to protect Israel at all costs.
He warned Israel against staging “a first strike” in any future attack on Lebanon, vowinf that Israel would get “a big surprise” from Hezbollah.
Nasrallah reiterated Hezbollah’s support for a strong Lebanese Army and called for genuine national consensus on boosting the Army’s military capabilities.
“In order to confront internal and external threats, there is one point of national consensus on strengthening the Lebanese Army as an institution defending the country. But is there really a national consensus on this? I doubt it,” he said.
“What weakens the Army these days most is accusing it of confessionalism and sectarianism, infiltrating it by groups and casting doubts about its patriotism and neutrality on national issues even though it has proved its neutrality,” he added.