Thousands mourn Hezbollah dead

Service held after the return of the bodies of eight men killed fighting Israel.

    About 5,000 mourners gathered for the memorial ceremony in Beirut [AFP]

    "These martyrs have defeated the enemy ... our enemy who was humiliated yesterday will remain so, by the grace of God," Hashem Safieddine, the head of Hezbollah's executive council, told the mourners.

    "The brothers of these martyrs will confront the enemy if it ever thinks of making the mistake" of attacking Lebanon, he said.

    "They will be buried in this blessed land after their return from the blessed land of Palestine."

    Prisoner swap

    The eight men were among almost 200 Lebanese and Palestinian fighters returned to Hezbollah on Wednesday, along with five Lebanese men released from Israeli prisons.

    After the speech, a prayer was recited for the souls of the dead.

    The prisoner swap has been celebrated as a victory over Israel [AFP]

    Relatives kissed and touched the coffins before they were carried through the southern suburbs by uniformed Hezbollah fighters as thousands of people followed.

    "Israel has fallen," read a sign in yellow and red.

    The eight bodies were to be handed over to their families for burials later on Friday or Saturday in their native villages in southern Lebanon.

    Some of the other bodies have been turned over to their respective organisations for burial, but others still require DNA testing for identification.

    Officials from the Palestinian Fatah faction are still in the process of identifying them, a Fatah official said.

    Among the remains of the returned Palestinian fighters was Dalal al-Moghrabi who was killed in a 1978 attack known in Israel as the "Coastal road massacre."

    The 19-year-old female leader of a Fatah commando unit became an icon of the Palestinian resistance.

    Tripoli fighting

    Meanwhile, one person was killed and six were wounded in clashes early on Friday in Lebanon's northern port city of Tripoli, a security official said.

    He said the person died and two people were wounded when a vehicle refused to stop at an army roadblock in the largely Sunni district of Bab al-Tebbaneh.

    Soldiers opened fire after the driver refused to stop. An exchange of fire between fighters from Bab al-Tebbaneh and troops of the internal security forces resulted in four soldiers wounded, one seriously.

    Fighting and grenade blasts are commonplace between the neighbouring districts of Bab al-Tebbaneh, where most residents are Sunni supporters of Western-backed Fuad Siniora, the prime minister, and Jabal Mohsen, a largely pro-opposition area of Alawites who support Syria and the Hezbollah movement.

    Fourteen people have been killed and more than 100 wounded since June in clashes between the two neighbourhoods.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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