Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed Sunday that the West was responsible for creating the Islamic State terror group, in an effort to harm Islam.
In an afternoon sermon, the leader of the Shiite terror group claimed that the US, through Saudi Arabia and “other countries working in its name,” had funded Islamic State activity, “helped it, strengthened it and made life easier for it.”
The terrorist leader added: “Islamic State and those who stand behind them, with their money and support — they should answer for the horrible thing that they did. This is the most terrible thing that has happened in our age.”
Nasrallah cast the insurgency against Syrian President Bashar Assad as a facade designed to weaken Iran’s regional access and make “changes to the map,” vowing to stay in the country until it could “defeat the apostate project.”
Nasrallah said the Syrian rebellion was “not about the fall of the regime, but about targeting the axis of resistance,” a reference to the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance. Assad, whose Alawite sect is on offshoot of Shiite Islam, has long provided a corridor for Iranian weapons shipments to the Lebanese Shiite terror group. Thousands of Hezbollah fighters are on the ground in Syria in defense of Assad’s government and senior commanders in Iran’s powerful Republican Guard are in advisory positions.
The speech came as fighting for the northern Syrian city of Aleppo escalated after a cease-fire to allow rebels and civilians to evacuate the city’s eastern quarters expired Saturday night. No evacuations were seen during the three-day window arranged by the Russian and Syrian military commands.
A leading northern Syrian rebel coalition warned civilians in Aleppo to stay away from government positions around the contested city early Sunday as rebels and pro-government forces clashed along the city’s outskirts.
Sunday’s sermon was not the first time Nasrallah has spawned a conspiracy theory accusing Western forces of creating IS.
In mid-August Nasrallah, an avid student of Western media, picked up on an accusation by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that the US created IS. Trump had meant that the vacuum created by US troops leaving Iraq had allowed the group to grow, but Nasrallah took it differently.
“This is an American presidential candidate who is saying this. What he says is based on facts and documents,” Nasrallah said at the time.
The comments came after Trump described President Barack Obama as the “founder” of IS. After at first defending the claim, Trump later said it was intended as sarcasm.
AP contributed to this report.