Printed on: May 01, 2013

Hezbollah issues Syria warning


BEIRUT (AP) -- The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group said Tuesday that Syrian rebels will not be able to defeat President Bashar Assad's regime militarily, warning that Syria's "real friends," including his Iranian-backed militant group, were ready to intervene on the government's side.

Hezbollah, a powerful Shiite Muslim group, is known to back Syrian regime fighters in Shiite villages near the Lebanon border against the mostly Sunni rebels fighting to topple Assad. The comments by Sheik Hassan Nasrallah were the strongest indication yet that his group was ready to get far more involved to rescue Assad's embattled regime.

Hezbollah and Iran are close allies of Assad. Rebels have accused them of sending fighters to assist Syrian troops trying to crush the 2-year-old uprising, which the U.N. says has killed more than 70,000 people.

In Damascus, a powerful bomb ripped through a bustling commercial district Tuesday, killing at least 14 people and bringing Syria's civil war to the heart of the capital for the second consecutive day.