Nasrallah: Saudi Arabia Responsible for Hajj Tragedy, US Failed Fighting ISIL

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Seyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Lebanese Hezbollah lashed out at Saudi Arabia for refusing any assistance in handling Hajj affairs, saying the monarchy is fully responsible for the fatal stampede in Mina outside the holy city of Mecca.

Nasrallah: Saudi Arabia Responsible for Hajj Tragedy, US Failed Fighting ISIL

Speaking on Friday, Nasrallah also said that the party’s fighters and the Syrian army could have finished the battle for Zabdani in a couple of weeks but held off to free two Shiite villages in the northwestern Idlib province, The Daily Star reports.

“We could have taken control of Zabadani a long time ago, 16 or 17 days after the battle began, but we (the Syrian army and Hezbollah) saw it as a chance to achieve some goals, including the liberation of the Foua and Kefraya,” Nasrallah said in an interview with Al-Manar. The battle for Zabadani started on July 1.

The Hezbollah chief said that the two allies were seeking a deal to facilitate the release of civilians from the two villages.

“We are seeking to control the Lebanese-Syrian border and force militants to retreat,” Nasrallah reiterated.

News emerged Thursday that warring sides in Syria reached an agreement under UN supervision over the fate of Foua, Kefraya and Zabdani.

The deal, to be carried out over a six-month period, includes the withdrawal of militants holed up in Zabadani near Lebanon, and the evacuation of civilians from Foua and Kefraya under their siege.

Nasrallah said that the first stage of the agreement sees the evacuation of gunmen and the wounded from Zabadani to Idlib.

“The civilians and families who wish to stay in Zabadani are allowed to do so.”

In return, 10,000 civilians will be freed from Foua and Kefraya, in addition to the wounded, Nasrallah added.

The first stage also sees a ceasefire in the areas and a truce for the next six months.

Those who remain in the two villages will receive aid, including food and fuel, the Hezbollah chief said, pointing out that “Zabadani remains under the control of the Syrian government and peace would return to the Lebanese border.”

The second stage touches on the prisoners issue “that needs further negotiations.”

“We wouldn’t have reached these results if the people of Foua and Kefraya didn’t stand their grounds.”

When asked if Hezbollah still has the same convictions after intervening in Syria, Nasrallah said that the party “wished if the war in Syria didn’t happen and the youth weren’t exploited... We would rather to be confronting Israel instead.”

On Russia's recent military build up in Syria, Nasrallah said that "several factors led to this decision."

"Moscow and Iran are staunch supporters of Syrian President (Bashar) Assad... and the Russian intervention in Syria is a positive aspect that will have fruitful results."

Nasrallah also lashed out at the US government, saying he doesn’t trust its strategy “in fighting terrorism as it’s not serious in its endeavors.”

"It (the US) isn't qualified to confront terrorism," he said, arguing that the US-led coalition failed to eliminate ISIL

“The chances for a political solution for the conflict in Syria are increasing.”

Nasrallah also commented on the stampede that marred the annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia Thursday that left at least 1300 people dead. He called on Riyadh to allow Iran to participate in the investigation committee to probe the disaster since it lost 131 citizens in the stampede, more than any other foreign country.

"The Saudi insistence to prevent other Islamic countries in managing the Hajj season is no longer reasonable."

Nasrallah said Saudi Arabia shall be held responsible for the tragic stampede incident in Mina, considering the fact that the monarchy has refused any assistance in handling Hajj affairs.

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