Hezbollah accuses Future of ’embracing terrorists’

Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc Thursday accused theFuture Movement of “embracing” jihadi groups based in Lebanon’s northeastern border region.

“The rhetoric by some in the Future Movement comes in the context of creating trouble and [distorting] truth,” the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc said in a statement after its weekly meeting.

“It will not succeed to provide cover to their party’s involvement in embracing takfiri terrorist gangs in Lebanon, and these groups’ attacks on the Army and security forces.”

The statement came in light of growing tensions betweenHezbollah and Future over Hezbollah’s offensive in Syria’sQalamoun region and its warning that it would enter the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal to push jihadis out ofLebanon if the Army didn’t take action.

March 14 officials have criticized Hezbollah for its offensive launched alongside the Syrian army earlier this month to rid the border Qalamoun region of jihadi groups led by the Nusra Front. March 14, which backs Syria’s opposition, says only the Lebanese Army can protect the country’s borders, arguing that Hezbollah’s actions in Syria endanger Lebanon.

They also accuse Hezbollah of trying to draw the Army into conflict in Arsal.

“Confronting the threat by the terrorist groups, who have taken Arsal as their headquarters, is everyone’s national duty,” MPHussein Fadallah said, reading from the statement after the meeting. “The Cabinet is responsible to fulfill its duties in this concern.”

He reiterated Hezbollah’s readiness to “always defend Lebanon and its people,” and to back security forces and the Lebanese Army.

“As long as there are threats, the legitimacy of the resistance will remain, which is in accordance with international law and what global conventions and texts state, regardless if some attempt to fabricate lies around it,” he added.

The strong-worded statement is also a response to the Future Bloc’s Tuesday statement, which accused Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah of using “arrogance and authoritarianism” in his latest speech.

Nasrallah, who spoke at an event Sunday to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon, warned the Future Movement that its leaders would be the first to be targeted if jihadi groups enter Lebanese towns.

He compared those justifying the presence of extremist groups on Lebanon’s territory to those who welcomed the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, saying his party will ensure all Islamists are ousted from Lebanon’s borders.

This sparked the fury of March 14 parties, who say only the Army is allowed to make such a decision, and that a Hezbollah attack on Arsal’s outskirts, which they are approaching from Qalamoun, would incite sectarian strife.