Hassan Nasrallah appeared on Lebanese television Wednesday night to dispel rumors he had left the country due to ill health, hours after conflicting media reports emerged concerning the Shiite leader’s condition.
In a laconic statement responding to Lebanese media reports claiming that Nasrallah was flown to Iran for cancer treatment earlier this week, Hezbollah said that Nasrallah was “in good health and in Lebanon, not having gone anywhere.”
Nasrallah denied the rumors in his speech, which mostly dealt with internal Lebanese politics.
“I want to tell you, what you have heard is not true,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Hezbollah news station Al-Manar announced that Nasrallah was scheduled to appear live on the channel at 6:30 p.m. Lebanon time to address “political developments in Lebanon and the region.”
Nasrallah last appeared onscreen on February 16 during a Hezbollah rally in Beirut’s southern suburb. He last appeared in public in September 2012 during a Beirut demonstration against a film found offensive to the prophet Muhammad.
On Wednesday, Lebanese online radio station Sawt Beirut International reconfirmed its original report on Nasrallah’s illness and evacuation to Iran.
Sawt Beirut reported that Nasrallah’s speech would be broadcast from the city of Qom, where he is receiving cancer treatment, and would be very brief. With his health seriously deteriorated, the speech will most likely be pre-recorded, the site claimed.
Sources in Beirut’s Rafic Hariri international airport told the site that a TV crew from Al-Manar left for Tehran on Tuesday evening to film Nasrallah’s speech. Nasrallah is reportedly receiving medical treatment from a joint Iranian-Venezuelan team, with additional doctors from Jordan, Egypt and Bahrain.
Sources close to the Free Syrian Army reported on Tuesday that Nasrallah was injured by rebel fire at the Lebanese-Syrian border during a tour of the area, where Hezbollah is engaged in fighting with the Syrian opposition, Saudi news site Elaph reported.
The FSA also reported that Nasrallah’s deputy, Naim Qassem, was injured while driving in a convoy of Syrian military officials arriving from Lebanon. According to the report, carried by Lebanese opposition daily Al-Mustaqbal, Syrian Major General Ali Dargham, the commander of military operations in western Syria, was killed in the attack.
But Sawt Beirut International, the station that first reported on Nasrallah’s illness, claimed that those reports were merely attempts by “Hezbollah’s media machine” to disseminate disinformation.