Beirut, Lebanon - Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, has called on the countries of the Middle East to join the battle in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
"We call on the people and governments of the region in order to work together to confront the takfiri threat," Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Monday evening, during a rally commemorating the party's "martyred leaders".
"We are all capable of defeating this threat and those who stand behind this threat, whether it be [Israeli] Mossad, the [American] CIA, or the British intelligence."
In Arabic, Takfiri refers to a Muslim who accuses another Muslim of defecting from Islam.
For the first time, Nasrallah spoke without the sound of celebratory gunfire resounding through Beirut, following a call made by the Hezbollah chief the day before to not fire any shots in the air. Rather, supporters gathered around the Sayyed al-Shuhada complex in Beirut's southern suburbs holding yellow balloons.
Telling the region not to wait for "an international strategy" to save them from the threat of ISIL, Nasrallah went on to say: "To those who are calling on us [Hezbollah] to withdraw from Syria, I call on you to come with us to Syria and Iraq."
Hezbollah has been fighting alongside the Syrian government against rebel groups since 2013. It is also heavily involved in the Qalamoun mountain range along the Lebanese-Syrian border, battling alongside both the Lebanese and Syrian armies against rebel groups holed up in the mountains.
Nasrallah warned that there will be heavy clashes in that particular area once the snow melts, and urged for cooperation between the Lebanese government and the Syrian government in order to counter any attacks from the rebels.
Warning Gulf states
He also said there was no difference between ISIL and the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, and that they share the same ideology, the same culture, and the same goal.
"How is it ISIL fighters are terrorists but Nusra ones are revolutionaries? Let us not kid ourselves."
Nasrallah also warned the Gulf Arab states about the impending threat they face from these groups, saying the goal and target was to take over the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
"ISIL's real goal is in Mecca and Medina. Let Saudi Arabia think very hard about this," he said. "Why? Because the Caliphate can't be established without the two holy sites."
Calling on the Gulf states to put aside their "anger and hatred" and to stop stirring sectarian tensions in countries like Iraq. Nasrallah urged them to cooperate and work with the rest of the region to confront extremism.
"Gulf countries can't participate in the fight against ISIL in Iraq, and then provide arms and money to its sister group, al-Nusra Front, in Syria. We must look at these movements as a whole, which poses a grave threat."
Source: Al Jazeera