Saad al-Hariri, the head of the al-Mustaqbal or Future, bloc and son of the slain former prime minister, Rafiq al-Hariri, said on Thursday that Bashar al-Assad had disdained Arab kindness towards Syria and his speech on Tuesday was like a "heavy strike" against Lebanon.

Al-Hariri was responding to a speech on Tuesday by al-Assad in which he accused Lebanon's anti-Syrian groups of allying themselves with Israel, which bombarded Lebanon for 34 days.

Al-Assad had also accused the anti-Syrian bloc of wanting to sow discord in Lebanon by demanding that Hezbollah, the Syrian-backed Shia resistance group, disarm.

"Lebanon's wound [inflicted by Israel] is deep and painful, but today it has faced a deeper one from a friend [Syria]," he said.

Taking advantage

While the Syrian people showed the Lebanese love and support, the Syrian government presented hatred and lies to the Beirut government, he said.

"Lebanon's wound [inflicted by Israel] is deep and painful, but today it has faced a deeper one from a friend [Syria]"

Saad al-Hariri, head of the Future bloc in Lebanon

"The Syrian people are like a support for Lebanon, but the Damascus regime is taking advantage of the Arab children's blood in Qana, Gaza and Baghdad to cause strife in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq.

"There is a neighbouring country that is threatening to shake the stability in Lebanon but we reject that.

 

"The victory is in Lebanese unity."

 

He said that those who forged that unity on March 14 would continue to protect it.

 

Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in central Beirut on March 14 last year against Syrian domination of Lebanese politics after the assassination of al-Hariri's father. It led to Syrian troops withdrawing from Lebanon after 29 years.

 

Unity versus aggression

 

Al-Hariri also attacked Israel in his speech to hundreds of supporters in Beirut.

 

"The history of Israel is full of massacres, but our history is marked by its steadiness," he said.

 

He applauded the resistance and the Lebanese people, saying that they were "much stronger than the Israeli aggression".

 

"The Israeli aggression may be able to destroy Lebanon [physically] but it cannot touch the Lebanese unity, which is what will help to rebuild the country."