BEIRUT (AFP) – The head of Lebanon's Shiite group Hezbollah, a staunch ally of Damascus, on Monday urged Saudi Arabia and other supporters of Syrian rebel forces to instead back a political settlement.
"I want to extend a sincere and honest invitation, in light of the political realities and facts on the ground in Syria... to Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, Turkey and the rest of the Arab and Islamic states," Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address.
"Review your positions. The situation has begun to take on very serious dimensions in Syria," he said. "You are betting on a failed military option... The solution is political, and political dialogue."
Nasrallah's group is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is battling an armed revolt which has the support of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Turkey and much of the international community.
Hezbollah has sent fighters to assist Assad's troops against the rebels.
Nasrallah, in his first address since an August 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus that prompted threats of US military action, warned against foreign intervention in Syria.
And he accused backers of the opposition of failing to take the regime up on its stated willingness to participate in a proposed peace conference in Geneva.
"Betting on military options and foreign interventions will not help achieve your goals," he said.
He accused the countries of blocking the path to political dialogue and instead supporting "military solutions that would be devastating to Syria and others."
The references appeared to be to US threats of military action, which is now on hold after Syria pledged to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction.
Nasrallah also rejected Saudi accusations that Hezbollah and its ally Iran, a fellow backer of the Syrian regime, were taking part in an "occupation of Syria."
"The number of Iranian Revolutionary Guards inside Syria is no more than tens of individuals and they have been there since 1982, and are at the lowest numbers since then," Nasrallah said.
He accused Saudi Arabia of supporting "tens of thousands of foreign fighters coming from all over the world" to fight against Syrian government forces.
"Are they not occupying Syria?" he asked.