Lebanese man protesting Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war was killed outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut, Lebanese officials said Sunday.
According to reports, a small group of Lebanese civilians demonstrating against the Shiite party-cum-terror group was attacked by black-shirted Hezbollah supporters in the Beirut Hezbollah stronghold of Bir Hassan
After beating the demonstrators with sticks, several of the pro-Hezbollah men fired over 25 shots in the air to scatter the demonstration.
Security officials in Beirut identified the man killed as Hashem Salman, a 28-year-old from the small Lebanese Option Party which had called Sunday’s protest against Hezbollah. The Lebanese Option is headed by Ahmad Asaad, a Shiite politician affiliated with the anti-Assad March 14 alliance.
The protest at the embassy coincided with another small rally in downtown Beirut also criticizing Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria’s conflict.
Hezbollah’s overt participation in the fighting in Syria has increasingly heightened political and sectarian tensions in Lebanon. Clashes in north Lebanon have intensified since Hezbollah admitted openly last month it would side with Syria’s President Bashar Assad until he defeated the rebels who seek his removal.
With the help of Hezbollah, Assad’s regime has been chasing rebels from long-held strategic areas linking the capital, Damascus, with the government stronghold areas along Mediterranean coast. It gained momentum this week after seizing the strategic city of Qusair and the army has begun advancing north toward the cities of Homs and Aleppo.
Once lauded in the Arab world as a heroic resistance movement that stood up to Israel, Hezbollah has seen its popularity plummet in the region because of its staunch support for Assad.
A week ago, the influential Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi angrily denounced Hezbollah — Arabic for “party of God” — as “the party of Satan” and called on Sunnis to join the jihad in Syria. A popular television preacher linked to the Brotherhood, Qaradawi had in the past called for better ties between Sunnis and Shiites and praised Hezbollah in its fights against Israel.
In his sermon, he angrily said Iran wants “continued massacres to kill Sunnis.”
Last Sunday, at a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi arabia, Bahrain asked the six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to consider placing Hezbollah on their terrorism list. In March, Bahrain’s parliament approved a bill designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and asked the country’s foreign ministry to .a