Hezbollah Calls Lebanese Rivals to Join 'Existential' Fight Against ISIS

Hassan Nasrallah says coalition strikes will not defeat Islamic State and other Al-Qaida-affiliated groups, says a strong Hezbollah is the only path to victory.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Lebanese supporters of Shi'ite Hezbollah movement gather in the southern town of Nabatiyeh on May 24, 2015, to watch a televised address by Hassan Nasrallah.
Lebanese supporters of Shi'ite Hezbollah movement gather in the southern town of Nabatiyeh on May 24, 2015, to watch a televised address by Hassan Nasrallah.Credit: AFP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah called on his political rivals and on the citizens of Lebanon and Syria to join the "existential fight" against ISIS and the Al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front.

In a televised speech screened in Nabatiya in southern Lebanon on Sunday, marking 15 years since the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, Nasrallah called on Lebanese leaders to take a clear stand against ISIS and "not to bury their heads in the sand."

According to Nasrallah, the international coalition cannot be relied upon in the war against ISIS, only Hezbollah and popular resistance forces. "Those who put their trust in the U.S. and in the international coalition are like those who put their trust in Israel during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon," he said, adding that during the Second Lebanon War Israel had conducted more strikes against Lebanon and the Palestinians than the U.S.-led coalition has to date.

Nasrallah addressed his rival Saad al-Hariri, the leader of the March 14th movement, and his partners in the Christian parties, and urged them to declare a clear stance against ISIS. According to Nasrallah, the Lebanese and Syrians who root for ISIS and the Nusra Front will be the first to pay the price in the case these groups win. "Will your pusillanimous claims to ISIS that you're against the Assad regime save you, your children and your wives from massacre and slavery?" Nasrallah asked.

No hope should be placed on a joint Arab force either, Nasrallah said, therefore "the only option is to rely on ourselves and on the peoples in Syria and Lebanon."

"The Lebanese [people] should not be worried over a Hezbollah victory, but over a Hezbollah defeat," he said. "A Hezbollah defeat would harm the security of all Lebanese."

This was Nasrallah's third speech in two weeks; Lebanese analysts say the frequency of his speeches indicates the pressure he is under, faced with the advances made by ISIS.

'Preparing for war'

On Friday, a report published by a Lebanese newspaper on shed light on Hezbollah's military capabilities in southern Lebanon, along its border with Israel. As-Safir, known for its pro-Hezbollah stance, revealed that the terrorist group has large amounts of forces stationed near the Israel-Lebanon border, as well as numerous tunnels, bunkers and surveillance equipment, in addition to tens of thousands of rockets.

According to the report, Hezbollah's forces are at their highest levels of preparation ever, and can be ready for conflict at a moment's notice. The newspaper also reports that Hezbollah's tunnels are fully equipped with ventilation systems, which prevent moisture from running equipment, as well as camouflaged exit ports, and that tens of thousands of rockets are ready for launch upon order.

The newspaper stressed that the Hezbollah forces are not biding their time, but working ceaselessly to expand tunnels, bunkers and lookout points. The actual construction work, however, is conducted with antiquated tools and techniques - after the dirt is dug up, it is placed in bags and carried up into the fields, and the tunnel entrances are camouflaged with branches.

The report detailed the situation in the tunnels, which are equipped with electricity, and claimed that militia forces are not supplied with canned goods and combat rations, but special food which can be stored for weeks on end while sustaining the militia men. The rations are kept in specialized boxes to be opened only when fighting breaks out, and are changed every five months for freshness.

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