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Lebanese Sunni militant group tells Hezbollah to leave Syria

The Sunni militant group, Abdullah Azzam Brigades vows to terrorise the Shiite Hezbollah over their involvement in Syria
Mourners attend a funeral after a suicide blast on 25 June in a Hezbollah stronghold of Beirut (AFP)

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades militant group vowed to "terrorise" the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah if the latter remained allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Brigades spokesman said Tuesday.

"I tell the party of Iran to leave Syria before it's too late," Serag al-Din Zureiqat said via Twitter in Arabic and Persian, referring to Hezbollah, a close ally the al-Assad government. 

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades had earlier claimed responsibility for two deadly suicide attacks – in February of this year and last November – on the Iranian embassy in Beirut. Iran is seen as a key sponsor of Hezbollah as well as Assad, and is known to funnel money and weapons to its two key regional allies. 

Throughout the past year, bombs have struck at least 17 Hezbollah strongholds in southern Beirut and the eastern al-Harmal region.

Zureiqat said that previous bombings claimed by the Brigades were intended to show "support for those who have been afflicted in Syria and Lebanon."

He went on to vow "further terror" against Hezbollah if the latter failed to withdraw its fighters from Syria.

"Wait for more episodes of terror that will make you forget the others," Zureiqat warned. 

Since early last year, Hezbollah has been sending fighters to neighbouring Syria to fight alongside Syrian government troops and against Syrian opposition forces.

Lebanon has found itself increasingly tanged in the more than three-year conflict next door in which more than 160,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced. 

Ethnically diverse Lebanon is expected to witness further violence, with Lebanese militant group Ahrar Sunna Baalebek on Monday pledging its loyalty to the Islamic State (IS), which is seen as one of the most violent and brutal militant groups in the region and now controls swaths of Syria and Iraq. 

"We proudly pledge our loyalty to ISIL chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as Caliph [leader of the Muslim nation]," Ahrar Sunna Baalabek declared via Twitter.

"We declare our full support for the actions carried out by ISIL," the movement asserted, calling on Muslims to select caliphs capable of imposing Islamic law. 

IS was until recently called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but on Sunday declared that it had formed its own state. It destroyed border demarcations between Syria and Iraq in preparation for establishing an Islamic caliphate and undoing the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the region between British and French spheres of influence.

Ahrar Sunna Baalabek was little known in Lebanon until recently, when it claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks that rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut, most notably a suicide bombing in the Duroy Hotel on 26 June.

The movement said the attacks were in retaliation for what it described as the victimisation of Sunni Muslims in Iraq and Lebanon. Ahrar Sunna Baalabek's recent pledge of loyalty to the ISIL, means it will bring the latter group's influence into the heart of Lebanon and Hezbollah’s traditional territory.

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