Lebanese Salafists Call for Jihad in Syria
Two Lebanese Salafist sheikhs called Monday for a jihad to defend Sunnis in war-ravaged Syria following what they said was Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian fighting on the side of President Bashar Assad’s forces.
The calls by Sidon’s Sheikh Ahmad Assir and Tripoli’s Sheikh Salem alRifai, staunch supporters of the Syrian uprising, came as the newly appointed head of Syria’s opposition National Coalition warned that Hezbollah’s role in fighting in the central Syrian province of Homs amounted to a “declaration of war.”
“What is happening in Homs is a declaration of war against the Syrian people and the Arab League should deal with it on this basis,” George Sabra said in Istanbul shortly after the opposition bloc announced his appointment as interim chief. “The Lebanese president and the Lebanese government should realize the danger that it poses to the lives of Syrians and the future relations between the two peoples and countries.”
His statement follows reports that fighters from Hezbollah were taking the lead in the Syrian regime’s battle against rebel groups the Al-Qusair area of Homs.
Speaking to his followers at a news conference at Bilal bin Rabah Mosque in east Sidon Monday night, Assir called for “a jihad in Syria, particularly in Al-Qusair.” He vowed to establish what he termed “Free Resistance Brigades” starting from Sidon and urged Sunni scholars to endorse his decision.
Assir also called for forming “secret armed groups for self-defense in case [Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan] Nasrallah decided to start fighting in Lebanon as he is doing in Syria.”