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Anticipating tribunal's findings, Nasrallah defends Hezbollah

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in 2005
  • Nasrallah says special tribunal to implicated rogue elements of Hezbollah
  • The Hezbollah leader says he will reject any such findings

(CNN) -- Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah predicted Thursday that a special U.N. tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will blame elements of his party, but said he would reject any such conclusion.

"We absolutely reject accusing any Hezbollah member of the killing of Hariri," Nasrallah said in a rare news conference. "We will not accept any indictment to anyone in Hezbollah."

Hariri was assassinated in a massive car bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, in February 2005.

Nasrallah said Hariri's son, current Prime Minister Saad Hariri, had told him that the special tribunal would implicate rogue Hezbollah members for the killing, but not the party itself.

"I told Hariri when he accused Syria to bring us one single proof and I will stand by your side and support you, but you cannot allow the instigation against Hezbollah and the Shiites in Lebanon to continue," Nasrallah said.

Damascus has denied any role in the killing.

Nasrallah said forces inside and outside Lebanon "don't want the stability in the country to last."

He added that it was "interesting" to note that the tribunal results would mention neither Syria nor any of the four Lebanese officers who were detained without charges in 2005 in the aftermath of the assassination and released in May 2009.

Nasrallah blamed those who align themselves with the March 14 Alliance. The coalition of Lebanese politicians and parties aligned with Saad Hariri is named after the date in 2005 of the Cedar Revolution. Many of its members are considered those whose opposition to Syria prompted Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon in April 2005.

The United States considers Hezbollah, which has close ties to Iran and Syria, to be a terrorist organization. The Shiite group is a political party and a major provider of social services in Lebanon but also operates a militant wing.

Among many Muslims, Hezbollah is seen as a heroic organization, successful in having driven Israeli forces from Lebanon in 2006.

In previous parliamentary elections, the March 14 coalition campaigned on a platform to disarm Hezbollah and opposed Hezbollah's 2006 war with Israel.

"In the last five years, some Lebanese politicians dragged the country into a bigger battle that targeted everyone," Nasrallah said. "Every day we were on the verge of a new civil war and we are all victims of a bigger plot that wanted to destroy the resistance in Lebanon.

"These same politicians want to drag Lebanon into that same phase once again.

"So I ask their supporters: Do you really want to stand by these leaders, despite all what happened? Despite everything they have done?"

Nasrallah said that any indictment of a Hezbollah member would represent a U.S.-Israeli effort to disarm Hezbollah's militant wing.

CNN's Saad Abedine contributed to this story.