Hezbollah calls for ‘unity’ to avoid destruction of Lebanon

Hezbollah made the announcement hours after after a car bomb killed five people in a Hezbollah bastion in southern Beirut

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Hours after a car bomb killed five people in a Hezbollah bastion in southern Beirut, the Shiite movement’s second-in-command called for unity in order to avoid the “destruction” of Lebanon.

Sheikh Naim Qassem did not accuse any party of being behind the attack, but he did make a call to face “takfiri (radical Sunni extremist) terrorists,” echoing accusations by Hezbollah over previous attacks.

“Lebanon is on the path to destruction if there is no political understanding, and we cannot save (the country) without national unity,” Qassem told Hezbollah’s television channel al-Manar.

“The criminal plan, in all its forms, will push people to drink the dregs of the chalice, and no one will be able to escape,” he warned.

“The answer is political understanding, and the speedy formation of a national unity government to face the criminal attacks across the country,” Qassem added.

Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters into Syria to back troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in his war against a rebellion seeking his overthrow.

Ever since the movement became involved in Syria’s war, Lebanon has suffered a wave of attacks that have deepened divisions between Shiites and Sunnis, most of who back Syria’s rebels.

Because of the division, Lebanon has been without a government ever since Najib Mikati’s cabinet resigned in April.

“If we unite politically, we will neutralise the takfiri terrorists... and we will stop those who want to come and settle their local, regional and international scores here,” Qassem added.

Hezbollah is Lebanon’s only party with a full-scale arsenal. It says it is fighting alongside Assad’s regime against Sunni “extremists” who threaten Lebanon’s security.

Thursday’s blast comes less than a week after a massive car bomb attack in central Beirut killed eight people, including an anti-Syria former minister, Mohammad Chatah.

The March 14 coalition, to which Chatah belonged, implied Hezbollah and Damascus had been behind the blast, and reiterated its refusal to join a national unity government with the Shiite group.

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