BEIRUT, Lebanon — The head of Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah on Thursday urged Lebanon to forge a plan to capture two disputed border areas held by Israel.
“We call on the state to devise a plan and take a sovereign decision to liberate the Shebaa Farms and the Kfarshouba Hills,” Hassan Nasrallah told thousands of his supporters in a televised speech, according to an English transcript of his speech provided by the Naharnet news website.
The Shebaa Farms — known in Hebrew as Mount Dov — is a small patch of land captured by Israel from Syria in 1967. Lebanon maintains that the strip of land is a part of Lebanon, despite it having been under Syrian control from the 1950s until it was captured and later annexed as part of the Golan Heights by Israel in 1981.
Neither Israel, Syria or the United Nations recognize Mount Dov as Lebanese territory.
Nasrallah, who has lived in hiding since the 2006 war with Israel, said Thursday he traveled to Damascus to seek the Syrian president’s approval of a jihadist evacuation deal.
“I personally went to Damascus” to see President Bashar Assad,
Hezbollah terror group leader Nasrallah reveals from his underground bunker, that he met with Syrian dictator Assad in secret Damascus visit pic.twitter.com/8UgwMyvTky
— Behind The News (@Behind__News) August 31, 2017
Nasrallah, 57, has only made rare public appearances since the 2006 war against his arch-foe Israel. As a figure on Israel’s most wanted list, he said in 2014 that he often changed his place of residence in the utmost secrecy.
On Monday, hundreds of Islamic State group fighters and civilians were evacuated from the border region between Lebanon and Syria under a ceasefire deal and headed toward eastern Syria near the Iraqi border.
The truce deal was negotiated between IS and Hezbollah, which has intervened in Syria’s six-year war to prop up Assad’s government.
The agreement has been criticized inside Lebanon, as well by the US-led coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq and especially by Baghdad.
Nasrallah tried to justify the deal by saying it was necessary to acquire information about the fate of Lebanese soldiers taken hostage by IS three years ago.
“We have a humanitarian cause. We wish you to help us,” Nasrallah said he told Assad. “We can only know what happened to the soldiers through this compromise.”
He said that, before approving the deal, Assad responded: “This will make things difficult for me.”
The deal came after Hezbollah fought a week-long offensive against IS on Syria’s side of the Lebanese border, at the same time as an assault by Lebanese troops on their side of the frontier.
A US-led coalition spokesman said Wednesday it had carried out air strikes to block the evacuated jihadists from reaching their destination in eastern Syria near the border with Iraq.