Hezbollah leader vows to drive US forces out of the Middle East

NEWS 05.01.2020 18:50
Source: Tanjug/AP/ Ebrahim Noroozi

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to mete out "just retribution" for the killing of Iran’s top military general Qasem Soleimani, promising to expel US forces from the region.

“The US military presence in the region, US military bases, US military vessels, every US officer and soldier in our region and in our countries and on our lands. The US military are the ones who killed [Soleimani and al-Muhandis] and they are the ones who will pay the price,” said Nasrallah in a televised speech today.

“Soleimani is not only an Iranian issue, he is all of the axis of resistance,” Nasrallah added. “Soleimani is the Muslim nation.”

Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese armed group and political party, is part of a coalition of fighting groups which includes Yemeni Houthi rebels, Islamic Jihad fighters in Gaza and Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq. Soleimani is widely seen as having masterminded the so-called “axis of resistance.”

“This is an American beginning in the region. We didn’t go attack them. They started a new war, of a new kind, in the region,” Nasrallah said.

He said that the deaths of Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, also killed in the attack, marked “the beginning of a new phase and a new history, not just for Iran or Iraq but for the entire region.”

Before the airstrike: In his speech, Nasrallah said Soleimani visited him in Beirut on New Year’s Day – two days before Soleimani was killed in a US strike in Baghdad airport.

The Hezbollah chief said he felt that the US was planning to assassinate Soleimani. According to Nasrallah, Soleimani smiled and said “I hope so.”