Hezbollah’s leader has claimed Saudi Arabia has declared war on Lebanon and his Shia Muslim militant group as tensions threaten to boil over in the region.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also said Saad Hariri, Lebanon’s Prime Minister who made a shock resignation speech from Riyadh on Saturday, was being detained in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking during a televised address, Mr Nasrallah claimed Mr Hariri’s resignation was an unprecedented Saudi intervention and called for his return as he insisted Lebanon’s government was still legitimate.
He said the insult to Mr Hariri was an insult to all Lebanese people before saying Saudi Arabia was inciting Israel to strike Lebanon.
But Mr Nasrallah said he thought a war with Israel would be unlikely, before warning the country against any attempt to exploit the ongoing tensions with Saudi Arabia.
He warned Israel not to think we are troubled. No, absolutely not, adding: Today we are more confident and feeling stronger in the face of any threat.
The group’s leader also denied claims that the Iran-backed Hezbollah group was behind Houthi rebels launching a failed ballistic missile at Riyadh from Yemen, saying Yemen itself had the capacity to produce missiles.
Iran has been accused of providing the rebels with the missiles, but it hit back claiming the Houthis were responding to Saudi aggression.
The tensions continued to intensify this week as Saudi Arabia ordered its citizens visiting or living in Lebanon to leave the country.
The country’s news agency (SPA) quoted an official source in the foreign ministry as saying: Due to the circumstances in the Lebanese Republic, the kingdom asks its citizens who are visiting or residing in the country to leave it as soon as possible.
The UN’s Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was very worried by the growing friction between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.
He said: It is essential that no new conflict erupts in the region. It could have devastating consequences.