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Hezbollah leader promises to continue fighting in Syria

Hassan Nasrallah says speculation Hezbollah would withdraw is false, adding the group could send more troops to aid government
Nasrallah said Hezbollah wanted a political solution to Syria's war (AFP)

The head of Lebanon's Hezbollah has said his movement would keep fighting in Syria alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces until the Islamic State (IS) group and al-Qaeda were defeated. 

"We went to Syria to help keep the country from falling into the hands of Daesh and Nusra Front," Hassan Nasrallah told Lebanese channel al-Mayadeen. "So long as we have a responsibility to be there, we will be there." 

Nasrallah's live interview on Monday evening came a week after Russia announced the partial withdrawal of forces fighting alongside Assad's army.

"All that has been said about our withdrawal from Syria is false," the Hezbollah chief said, in response to a question from his interviewer about speculation that the group was preparing to pull out.

"Whether the Russians leave or stay - more than that, whether the Iranians leave or stay, our fate and the fate of our Syrian brothers is one and indivisible.

"If Syria falls into the hands of Daesh and Nusra, Syria is finished, Lebanon is finished."

He said Hezbollah was "still capable of sending more forces to Syria. But we don’t think like those who don’t want a political solution. We want a political solution." 

Earlier this month, the six monarchies that form the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Kuwait and Bahrain, declared Hezbollah a "terrorist" group. 

Branding Hezbollah a pawn of regional rival Iran, Kuwaiti authorities expelled 11 Lebanese and three Iraqis over alleged ties to the group, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported on Monday. 

Bahrain, on 14 March, said it had expelled an unspecified number of Lebanese for alleged Hezbollah membership. 

Nasrallah's interview came as Syrian government and opposition delegations gathered in Geneva for indirect negotiations to try to end a war that has killed more than 270,000 people since 2011. 

The UN's Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, said he had been told by Syrian government representatives that it was "premature" to talk about agreeing a transitional government, as set out under UN plans.

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