BEIRUT (AP) — Hezbollah's leader said on Friday that the Lebanese militant group will be sending more fighters to Syria's Aleppo province, where pro-government forces are battling Syrian rebels on several fronts.
Hassan Nasrallah made the pledge despite heavy losses the Shiite group has incurred in fighting along Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces in the war-wrecked Aleppo province this month.
In a speech addressing supporters to mark 40 days since the killing of Hezbollah's top commander Mustafa Badreddine in Syria, Nasrallah called the fight for Syria's largest city and its province the "great" battle of the Syria war.
"We will increase our presence in Aleppo," he said and added that "there can be no retreat, and no doubt."
Hezbollah, a Shiite group which is also part of the Lebanese government, has sent thousands of fighters to support Assad's forces in the civil war next door. The conflict is now in its sixth-year. Over 1,000 of Hezbollah's fighters have been killed in battle.
Nasrallah admitted to losing 26 fighters in the Aleppo region in June alone but also claimed that more than 600 fighters were killed on the side of the enemy.
He also said the fate of Lebanon is intertwined with that of Syria and Iraq, adding that it is only natural that his fighters be involved in those conflicts to protect Lebanon.
Nasrallah also criticized Bahrain's rulers for their decision to strip the country's leading Shiite cleric of his nationality in a move that brought thousands of protesters into the streets and threatened to further ignite sectarian tensions across the region.
In his speech, he blasted Bahrain's Sunni leaders as being "midgets" and "servants" of the Saudi ruling family.