Monday, December 11, 2017

Powerful Iraqi militant appears on Lebanon-Israel border - News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

by News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff 

Lebanese PM Saad Hariri orders al-Khazali banned from country, calls visit "flagrant violation" of the law.

Shiite Iraqi militia leader Qais al-Khazali at the Fatima Gate 
on the border with Israel in southern Lebanon 
Screenshot: AP

A powerful Iranian-backed Iraqi militant commander has visited the Lebanon-Israel border expressing support for the Lebanese and Palestinians against the Jewish state and sparking harsh criticism from Lebanon's prime minister who ordered him banned from entering the country.

Qais al-Khazali is commander of the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or League of the Righteous, a group that staged spectacular attacks against U.S. troops before their withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. He appeared in military uniform in a video while touring the border with Israel along with members of Lebanon's terrorist Hezbollah group.

"We declare our full readiness to stand with the Lebanese people and the Palestinian cause against the unjust Israeli occupation that is hostile to Islam, Arabs and humanity," he said.

The visit could be seen as a message to Israel that a possible war with Hezbollah in the future would bring into the country Iran-backed fighters from around the region at a time when Iranian-backed groups have a major presence in Syria and Iraq.

The visit was blasted by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri who said in a statement that it is a "flagrant violation" of Lebanese laws, adding that the appearance happened six days ago. Hariri ordered al-Khazali banned from entering Lebanon again.

Hariri's office said the prime minister contacted security officials to investigate the incident and prevent any person or group from carrying out any military activities on Lebanese territory.

The video was aired by Asaib Ahl al-Haq al-Ahd TV station Thursday night showing al-Khazali along with several other people in military uniforms as they showed him around areas overlooking Israeli towns and villages.

In the video, an unidentified commander, presumably from Hezbollah, gestures toward IDF outposts in northern Israel and explains to al-Khazali that they were hit by Hezbollah missiles in previous confrontations between the group and Israel.

"We are now on the border separating southern Lebanon with occupied Palestine with our brothers in Hezbollah, and announce our full preparedness to stand united … against the Israeli occupier," al-Khazali said in the video.

Al-Khazali is later seen standing next to a wall on the border near the Fatima Gate in the Lebanese border village of Kfar Kila.

Al-Khazali's Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Hezbollah are among the Iranian-backed groups that are fighting in Syria along with Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces helping in tipping the balance of power in his favor in Syria's conflict now in its seventh year.

Jawad al-Tlebawy, a spokesman for Asaib Ahl al-Haq in Baghdad, said that the trip to the Lebanon-Israel border occurred after this week's decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Hariri's office said it happened several days before Trump's decision, which has triggered widespread protests throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

A commander in an alliance between Hezbollah, Iran and Russia, said al-Khazali was accompanied by officers from Asaib Ahl al-Haq and visited the entire border with "occupied Palestine."

The commander did not say when the visit took place.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in June that any future war waged by Israel against Syria or Lebanon could draw in fighters from countries including Iran and Iraq.

News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff


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