For the first time since the outbreak of unrest in Syria, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) on Thursday announced that it had retaliated against what it claimed were Hezbollah hostilities and bombarded the group’s interests inside Lebanon.
The Syrian rebel organization said in a statement that FSA forces had launched two attacks against Hezbollah in northern Lebanon’s Hermel province.
“An FSA brigade launched two consecutive attacks at 12:30 pm on Thursday, the first of which targeted a group of Hezbollah fighters in the western Qusayr district in Syria, killing and wounding all of its members,” the statement read. The attack was carried out with machine guns and anti-tank rockets against two four-wheel-drive vehicles used by Hezbollah.
In the second attack, several FSA brigades attacked with mortar shells a Hezbollah artillery position in the in Hosh al-Sayyed Ali area inside Lebanon and “achieved direct hits,” according to the statement.
Earlier this week, Hezbollah and Syrian rebels clashed on the Lebanon-Syria border, leaving at least one Hezbollah fighter and five rebels dead.
Former prime minister and opposition leader Saad Hariri lambasted Hezbollah for taking part in fighting on the side of the Assad regime.
“What is Hezbollah doing on the Syrian front?” wondered Hariri in a statement published Thursday. “We were not far from the truth when we declared that Hezbollah’s main aim is not resistance, but rather that its weapons are used for other purposes. This is now evident in the news of armed gangs belonging to the party carrying out military operations in support of the Assad regime.”
But Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour denied the authenticity of the media reports referred to by Hariri. He claimed that Lebanese nationals living inside Syrian territory, in villages such as Qusayr, were merely practicing self-defense against an FSA onslaught.
Lebanon has adopted an official policy of non-intervention in the Syrian conflict, a position Mansour said was still in place.
“From the start we said that foreign intervention in the Syrian matter will not help Syria out of its crisis,” Mansour told the Russia Today TV station.
Hezbollah has never acknowledged direct participation in fighting alongside the Assad regime inside Syria, nor did it confirm the FSA reports of Thursday’s attack.