The leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon has made a rare public appearance in Beirut at which he accused the opposition in Syria of playing into the hands of Israel and the US.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah addressed a rally to mark the religious festival of Ashura, one of the most important events in the Shi’ite Muslim calendar.
He is rarely seen in public, usually preferring to speak via video, but he used the occasion to send out a defiant message.
Nasrallah told the crowd that Hezbollah’s military wing, Islamic Resistance, continues to be armed and that it is growing in numbers.
The crowd chanted “Death to Israel” in response.
Hezbollah controls large swathes of south Lebanon which borders on Israel. In 2006 a 34-day conflict in the region left more that 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis dead.
Nasrallah told his supporters that his appearance at the rally in Beirut was a message to those who believe they can threaten Hezbollah.