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[casi] Nasrallah: the people of Iraq have only the choice of resistance..

Lebanon's Hizbollah Says Won't Lay Down Arms

Sun May 25, 2003 03:10 PM ET

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Syrian-backed Hizbollah group
vowed Sunday not lay down its arms, despite growing
U.S. pressure on Damascus to rein in the Shi'ite
Muslim guerrillas.

At a rally marking three years since Israel withdrew
from south Lebanon, Hizbollah leader Sheikh Hassan
Nasrallah urged fellow Arabs in Iraq and the
Palestinian territories to take up arms and drive
"occupation" forces off their land.

"They want to disarm us, but we refuse to do so..
Today we need to keep betting on the resistance," he
told thousands of people in the eastern city of
Baalbek, the group's strong-hold.

Hizbollah, also backed by Iran, waged a war of
attrition that played a crucial role in ending
Israel's 22-year occupation of south Lebanon on May
25, 2000. The group has since clashed with Israeli
troops in the disputed Shebaa Farms border area.

Secretary of State Colin Powell used his visits to
Damascus and Beirut this month to demand steps to rein
in the group, which Washington believes was behind the
bombing of its marine barracks and kidnapping of
Westerners during Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in remarks
published Sunday that his country would continue to
support Hizbollah for as long as the group limits its
operations to defending Lebanon from potential Israeli

Nasrallah said armed resistance was the only viable
weapon against occupation, and that the Lebanese
experience in south Lebanon south could be repeated
elsewhere in the region.

"What we want to confirm is that what happened on May
25 is not an exception...but can happen in any country
whose land is occupied and whose people have chosen to
resist," he said.

"(The) Palestinian people made this choice and scored
great achievements in the last three years and...the
people of Iraq have only the choice of resistance," he
added, referring to the Palestinian uprising against
Israel and U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Hizbollah, a fixture on Washington's list of
"terrorist" groups, denies it was behind the U.S.
marine barracks attack and accusations that it is a
"terrorist" group active abroad.

Cheered on by men, women and children chanting "Death
to America, Death to Israel," Nasrallah warned against
any U.S. or Israeli attack on Lebanon or its political
master Syria.

"The greatest mistake the U.S. administration or the
government of (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon
could commit is to launch any time soon a military
aggression against Lebanon or Syria, because this
aggression would be met with the resistance of suicide
bombers," he said.

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