BEIRUT (AFP) – Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Friday he is ready to fight in Syria, a day after a deadly car bomb in a Beirut stronghold of his pro-Damascus Shiite group.
Nasrallah also accused radical Islamists of responsibility for the bombing that killed at least 22 people, after a previously unknown group, apparently a Syrian rebel cell, said it carried out Thursday's attack.
"I will go myself to Syria if it is so necessary in the battle against the takfiris (radical Sunni Muslims), Hezbollah and I will go to Syria" to fight rebels trying to oust the Damascus regime, he said.
In a speech broadcast on television as Lebanon held a day of mourning for the victims of the car bomb, Nasrallah said "all indications concerning yesterday's attack lead to the takfiri groups".
Police said at least 22 people were killed in the bombing that targeted the densely populated southern suburbs of Beirut, between the Hezbollah bastions of Bir el-Abed and Rweiss. The Red Cross said 325 were wounded.
Hezbollah is a key supporter of President Bashar al-Assad and has sent fighters across the border to Syria this year to bolster government forces, which have been battling a deadly anti-regime revolt since March 2011.
An online video surfaced shortly after the attack showing three masked men, two of them holding rifles, in front of a white flag inscribed with the Islamic profession of faith.
"You, the pig Hassan Nasrallah, we send you our second powerful message because you haven't understood yet," said one member of the group calling itself the Battalion of Aisha, an apparent Sunni affiliation.
Thursday's blast comes six weeks after a car bomb attack in the same area wounded more than 50 people.