Last Updated: Sat Jan 14, 2012 23:15 pm (KSA) 20:15 pm (GMT)

Hezbollah chief Nasrallah rejects call by U.N.’s Ban to disarm

Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters during a rally marking Arbain in Baalbeck, in the Bekaa valley, Jan. 14, 2012. (Reuters)
Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters during a rally marking Arbain in Baalbeck, in the Bekaa valley, Jan. 14, 2012. (Reuters)

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday rejected a call by visiting UN chief Ban Ki-moon for his militant anti-Israel movement to disarm, saying it was determined to maintain a military capacity to defend Lebanon.

“I affirm today, firmly, decisively and with the greatest conviction ... the choice of armed resistance,” Nasrallah said. “These weapons, along with the Lebanese people and army, are the only guarantee of Lebanon’s protection.”

Mocking a demand by visiting U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon that Hezbollah lay down its weapons, Nasrallah said he was happy that Hezbollah’s military prowess was a cause for concern.

“Your concern, Secretary-General, reassures us and pleases us. What matters to us is that you are worried, and that America ... and Israel are worried with you,” he said in a televised speech marking a Shi’ite holy day.

Hezbollah, which fought a devastating month-long war with Israel in 2006, has rejected a U.N. Security Council resolution that demands that it lay down its military arsenal, as all other Lebanese armed groups did at the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

Nasrallah, in hiding since 2006 for fear of assassination, says his movement has been re-arming since the 2006 conflict, when it fired hundreds of rockets across the border daily into northern Israel.

Ban, speaking in Beirut on Friday, said he was “deeply concerned about the military capacity of Hezbollah” and the lack of progress in disarmament. “All these arms outside of the authorized state authority, it’s not acceptable,” he declared.

Ban, who is on a three-day visit to Lebanon, traveled by helicopter to the town of Naqura, headquarters of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), and laid a wreath at a memorial site for soldiers killed in service.

He met with Major General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, the head of UNIFIL, who briefed him on the force's operations in the south.

UNIFIL was deployed in 1978 to maintain stability at the border between Lebanon and Israel.

It was expanded in 2006 following a devastating war between the militant group Hezbollah and the Jewish state. It now numbers some 12,000 troops.

UNIFIL soldiers have been the target of three attacks in the past year that have prompted fears they could be linked to the deadly unrest in neighboring Syria.

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