Lebanese sheikhs urge Salafis to join Syrian rebels

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A man walks past a blood stain on a street in the Lebanese border town of Qasr in the Hermel border region on 14 April 2013, after it came under artillery shell fire from Syrian territory, killing two citizens, and injuring several others. (Photo: AFP)

Published Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Two Lebanese Salafi Sheikhs issued a fatwa Monday night calling on their supporters to join Islamist rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Ahmad al-Assir, leader of a radical Sunni movement, and Salem al-Rafei, who heads one of the largest armed anti-Syrian formations in Tripoli, called for the “full mobilization of weapons, young fighters, and money” in support of the armed opposition groups in Syria.

“Hezbollah also sends young people under the pretext of defending the Shia villages, we will send our young people under the pretext of defending the Sunni villages,” they said in a joint statement during a sermon at the Taqwa mosque in Tripoli.

“The call for jihad would deter Hezbollah from supporting the killers,” Rafei said.

The Sheikhs, who only draw support from a relatively small number of Lebanese Sunnis, were referring to Hezbollah’s role in arming and training Lebanese Shia living in border villages that have come under attack by Syrian rebels.

Sporadic shelling from Syria has also hit Lebanese border towns killing and injuring a number of residents since the civil war erupted two years ago.

Most recently, two rockets fired from Syria struck Lebanon’s northeastern border Tuesday causing only material damage according to the National News Agency.

One of the rockets struck a building under construction in the Shia village of Hermel, the report said, adding that the exact location of the second rocket had yet to be determined.

A 13-year-old was one of at least two people killed when a rocket fired from Syria struck the village of Qasr in the Hermel region on April 14.

Qasr is located in Lebanon’s northeast, across from the Syrian town of Quseir which has been a site of intense fighting between Syrian troops and rebels.

Assad over the weekend reportedly told a delegation of Lebanese officials that the “main battle” for his country was being fought in Quseir.



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