Hassan Nasrallah: 'Road to Jerusalem passes through Syria'

Hassan Nasrallah: 'Road to Jerusalem passes through Syria'
Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Lebanon's Hizballah movement says liberating Palestine is dependent on what happens in Syria.
2 min read
13 July, 2015
Al-Quds day was declared by Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini (Getty)
In a televised speech, Hizballah Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah, proclaimed that the road to liberating Jerusalem did not pass through the coastal town of Jounieh in Lebanon, as some PLO leaders reportedly stated during the Lebanese civil war, in reference to the stronghold of their opponents in the Christian right.

Instead, Nasrallah said, the road to Jerusalem goes through "Qalamoun, Zabadani, Homs, Aleppo, Daraa, Hasakeh and Suweida" in Syria.

The reference to Jerusalem is an apparent response to those who have accused the party that has fought against Israel in south Lebanon of losing its way and using its resources against Syrian rebels to protect the Syrian regime.

Hizballah justifies its involvement by claiming the majority of Syrian rebels it is fighting consists of Sunni extremists directly and indirectly affiliated with al-Qaeda and IS. Under that claim, Hizballah argues that those groups must be defeated to protect Syria, Lebanon, and the Iranian-sponsored "axis of resistance". 

Opponents of Hizballah have criticised and even mocked Nasrallah’s remarks, for equating Syrian regions populated with civilians to enemy territory.

On Sunday, Hizballah’s main opponent in Lebanon, head of the Future Movement and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, reiterated his rejection of Hizballah’s involvement in Syria.

Hariri said the road to Tehran, not Jerusalem, goes through Syria, and accused the Shia party of serving a sectarian agenda led by Iran.

Military setbacks

Hizballah, the Syrian army and loyalist militias had recently launched a major assault  on the resort border town of Zabadani, the last major town held by Syrian rebels in the Qalamoun region that runs parallel to the Lebanese border.

Hizballah and regime forces have since run into stiff resistance, and have yet to capture the town though they now control parts of Zabadani. Some analysts believe that Hizballah's offensive has been halted due to the anticipation of a nuclear deal with Iran which is expected to redraw regional interests, especially in Syria.

Regardless of the actual reason, Zabadani battle came after a series of  setbacks suffered by the Syrian regime and its allies in northern, southern, and eastern Syria against various rebel groups and the Islamic State (IS).

As the Syrian regime and its allies struggle to maintain control of the fronts far from Damascus, they have been desperate to consolidate their hold over their territories in the coast and central Syria, and secure the regime’s last remaining links to the outside world via Lebanon.