Hezbollah leader Nasrallah
Photo: AFP

Kerry says thousands of Hezbollah fighters involved in Syria

US state secretary condemns group's 'contribution to violence,' says US considering increased support for rebels; British FM: Hezbollah 'propping up' Assad

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that if Syrian President Bashar Assad was not prepared to discuss a political solution to end Syria's civil war, the United States and others would consider increasing support for his opponents.


Kerry also told a news conference in the Jordanian capital Amman that there were several thousand fighters from the Lebanese group Hezbollah taking part in Syria's conflict, with Iranian support.


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"Just last week, obviously, Hezbollah intervened very, very significantly. There are several thousands of Hezbollah militia forces on the ground in Syria who are contributing to this violence and we condemn that," he said.

הלוויית לוחם חיזבאללה שחזר מסוריה בארון

Funeral of a Hezbollah fighter who died in Syria


Kerry said recent military gains by Assad's forces were only temporary and that if he believed the counter-offensives against the rebels would be decisive, "then he is miscalculating".


He said US President Barack Obama had made clear he did not intend to dispatch US forces to Syria but that Washington would discuss continued and growing support to help rebel fighters if Assad was unwilling to negotiate a political solution to the two-year-old crisis.

תומכות נסראללה בביירות. אסד חייב לו את ההישגים האחרונים (צילום: AP)

Hezbollah supporters in Lebanon (Photo: AP)


Wednesday's meeting in Amman, which gathers ministers from 11 Western and Middle Eastern countries who have led international opposition to Assad, aimed to promote efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria, he added.


Speaking at the conference, British Foreign Secretary William Hague seconded Kerry and said that Iran and its militant Shiite Lebanese ally Hezbollah are "propping up" President Bashar Assad and giving him increasing support.


Hague said Britain would urge international powers to set a date in the next few days for an international conference to try to end the two-year-old conflict engulfing Syria and threatening regional stability.


Earlier on Wednesday, Germany said it supports adding the military wing of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah to the European Union's list of terrorist groups.

עשן מיתמר מטריפולי בלבנון, באחד מסבבי העימות האחרונים (צילום: AFP)

Smoke over Tripoli, Lebanon, during latest violent bout (Photo: AFP)


Germany's foreign ministry said the decision follows "discussions we have had with our partners following the terrorist attack in Burgas" on the Bulgarian coast last year that killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver.


Meanwhile, Lebanese supporters of rival factions in Syria's civil war battled overnight in the city of Tripoli in the worst such bout of spillover violence since the conflict started two years ago.


One person was killed and many were wounded as Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim gunmen fired mortar bombs and rocket-propelled grenades at each other in a fifth day of clashes in the coastal city, security sources said on Wednesday.


Syrian activists said the fighting in Tripoli was triggered by an assault on the Syrian border town of Qusair, where Hezbollah fighters are helping Syrian government forces.


AP, Reuters contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 05.22.13, 19:08
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