Hezbollah declares war on Syrian people, SNC chief says

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The Syrian National Coalition’s interim president said Monday the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has declared war on the Syrian people amid reports the movement is leading the fight against rebels in the central province of Homs.

“What is happening in Qusayr in Homs is Hezbollah declaring a war on the people of Syria,” George Sabra said in a press conference in Istanbul shortly after being named the new Syrian opposition interim chief.

“Hezbollah fighters have crossed the border into Syrian towns and cities.”

Sabra also said there are ongoing massacres in Syria, citing recent reports that at least 500 people have been killed in the past week by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Some of them were killed [with] knives in very barbaric ways. We are afraid this kind of behavior will continue. It is a massacre. It is crime against humanity,” he said, adding: “We put this fact in front of the international community to do what [it] has to do.”

The Syrian National Coalition named veteran dissident Sabra as caretaker leader of the main opposition grouping on Monday, following the resignation of Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib.

Sabra “was assigned today to carry out the functions of the head of the Coalition until elections for a new president,” one of the Coalition’s main constituent groups, the Syrian National Council, said in a statement.

The announcement came a day after the widely-respected Khatib submitted his resignation for a second time, officially in protest over the failure of the international community to stop the conflict in Syria, which has killed at least 70,000 people.

Sabra, who until now led the Syrian National Council, will be the Coalition’s caretaker leader until at least May 10, when the Coalition is scheduled to meet for leadership elections.

Sabra is a veteran communist opponent of the Damascus regime and one of the most prominent Christian members of the opposition.

He was imprisoned for eight years under the rule of President Bashar al-Assad’s father and predecessor Hafez.

He was subsequently detained after the uprising against Assad began in March 2011, and secretly left Syria in early 2012 to help contribute to the formation of the opposition.