Beirut: Former Lebanese premier Sa’ad Hariri said Saturday the country’s Sunnis “refuse” to be a part of any conflict between Al Qaida and Shiite movement Hezbollah, denouncing sectarian attacks on civilians anywhere in Lebanon.
The war in neighbouring Syria has inflamed sectarian tensions in Lebanon, with Hezbollah backing President Bashar Al Assad and many Sunnis supporting the rebellion against him.
Hariri’s statement came a day after a jihadist group warned all areas where Hezbollah operates are “legitimate targets” for attack, telling Sunnis to avoid them.
“The Lebanese, and the Sunnis among them, refuse to be part of any war in Lebanon or the region between Hezbollah and Al Qaida,” said Hariri, who heads the anti-Syrian Future bloc.
“They also refuse that the civilians in any region of Lebanon become the targets,” he added.
On Friday, Al Nusra Front in Lebanon, a group suspected of links to Al Qaida, described Hezbollah’s “bases and bastions” as “legitimate targets” for attack.
The group had also claimed a car-bomb attack in Beirut’s southern suburbs on Tuesday that killed four.
It was the sixth in a string of attacks targeting areas dominated by Hezbollah since the Shiite group acknowledged sending fighters into Syria to support Al Assad’s forces.
Al Nusra Front in Lebanon — which is believed to be the franchise of Syria’s Al Nusra Front, a jihadist rebel movement — had previously also claimed responsibility for a car-bomb attack in Hermel in eastern Lebanon, which killed three people.
While Hezbollah is said to be the target of such attacks, they have regularly killed civilians.
Hariri also reiterated on Saturday his opposition to Hezbollah’s support for Al Assad, who he has accused of ordering the assassination of his father, former premier Rafiq Hariri.
“Every sane and patriotic Lebanese, of any sect, will refuse to be dragged behind these [jihadist] calls, [just] as he refuses Hezbollah’s war in Syria,” Hariri said.