BEIRUT (AP) — The government of Syrian President Bashar Assad is no longer in danger of falling, the leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group said in an interview with a Lebanese newspaper.
In an interview with daily newspaper As-Safir, Hassan Nasrallah also said the threat of bombings in Lebanon “has dropped considerably” because of the “measures adopted along the Lebanese-Syrian border.”
Hezbollah militants have been fighting alongside Syrian government troops against the rebels trying to oust Assad from power. The Shiite group’s fighters were instrumental in helping Assad’s forces dislodge opposition fighters from their strongholds along the countries’ border.
However, Hezbollah’s public role in the 3-year-old conflict has inflamed sectarian tensions in Lebanon. The country’s Sunni Muslims support the Syrian rebels. In the past weeks, the Sunni militants have carried out several deadly attacks on Hezbollah strongholds around Lebanon, claiming they were in revenge for Hezbollah’s help to the Syrian government.
As for Assad’s government in Damascus, Nasrallah said: “The danger of the Syrian regime’s fall has ended.”
Syria’s conflict began with largely peace protests in March 2011. It has evolved into a civil war with sectarian overtones and Islamic extremists, including foreign fighters and Syrian rebels who have taken up hard-line al-Qaida-style ideologies, have played an increasingly prominent role among fighters, dampening the West’s support.
More than 150,000 people have been killed in the past three years, activists say.
Excerpts of the interview were published Sunday by Lebanon’s official National News Agency. The full interview will appear in the newspaper’s Monday edition.