Monday, December 6th | 3 Tevet 5782

Subscribe
October 22, 2021 10:31 am
0

Lebanon’s Geagea Dismisses Hezbollah Accusations, Says His Group Has No Fighters

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

People stand on a balcony on a bullet-riddled building a day after gunfire erupted in an attack on protesters who were heading for a demonstration called by Hezbollah to demand the removal of the judge investigating last year’s port explosion, in Beirut, Lebanon October 15, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

The leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces party denied on Thursday his group has fighters, dismissing accusations by Hezbollah that it has a militia and seeks civil war as the fallout of deadly violence in Beirut continues to roil Lebanon.

Already suffering a devastating economic meltdown, Lebanon has been overshadowed by renewed tensions since seven Shi’ite Muslims were shot dead in Beirut last week during the worst street violence in the capital in more than a decade.

The heavily armed, Iran-backed Shi’ite group Hezbollah has accused the Lebanese Forces party of perpetrating the killing.

The Lebanese Forces, a group with close Saudi ties which had a powerful militia in the 1975-90 civil war, has denied any involvement.

Related coverage

December 6, 2021 5:38 pm

USC Defends Response as 60 Faculty Members Call for ‘Rebuke’ Over Student’s Violently Antisemitic Tweets

The University of Southern California (USC) defended on Friday its efforts to address antisemitism on campus, in a private letter...

In an interview with Lebanese broadcaster MTV on Thursday, LF leader Samir Geagea said the confrontation with Hezbollah was purely political and must remain so.

“We do not have fighters,” Geagea said.

Nobody should think about confronting Hezbollah militarily, Geagea said, saying this would be a big mistake.

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters a military court would ask Geagea to give a statement about the Oct. 14 violence. The sources did not say when.

Asked about the report, Geagea said he had not been informed of any request for a statement, but if the court wants to take one from him it should first listen to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

Thursday’s shooting started as supporters of Hezbollah and its Shi’ite ally Amal were gathering for a demonstration against the lead investigator in the Beirut port blast probe.

HOLDING GOVERNMENT “HOSTAGE”

The army is still investigating the violence. Hezbollah has accused the LF of an ambush. There was no immediate response from Hezbollah to Geagea’s comments.

Geagea has said the trouble began when supporters of the Shi’ite parties entered the Christian neighborhood of Ain al-Remmaneh where they vandalized cars and four residents were wounded before a shot was fired. On Thursday, Geagea said Ain al-Remmaneh had been subjected to “an invasion.”

He has said he did not know who had opened fire.

The army said on Saturday a soldier suspected of opening fire towards the protesters was under investigation.

The day of the incident, the army initially said gunfire had targeted protesters as they passed through the Teyouneh traffic circle dividing Christian and Shi’ite Muslim neighborhoods. It later said there had been an “altercation and exchange of fire” as protesters were on their way to the demonstration.

The violence including the use of rocket-propelled grenades lasted several hours.

Geagea said Nasrallah aimed to halt the probe into the port blast.

Geagea said that while he initially thought Hezbollah had nothing to do with the explosion, “with its recent actions it is telling us that perhaps it might be concerned with the port explosion”.

Hezbollah has been leading demands for the lead investigator in the probe, Judge Tarek Bitar, to be removed, accusing him of bias. Bitar has not sought to question any Hezbollah members over the blast.

Bitar has sought to question several Hezbollah allies on suspicion of negligence that led to the blast, which killed more than 200 people and devastated swathes of Beirut.

In its efforts to stop the probe, Hezbollah has taken the current government “hostage”, Geagea said, referring to how standoff over Bitar has paralyzed the cabinet.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner

Algemeiner.com

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.