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Lebanon's Hezbollah chief Nasrallah reassures supporters over his health

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By Reuters
Lebanon's Hezbollah says Iranian fuel vessels heading to Lebanon
Lebanon's Hezbollah says Iranian fuel vessels heading to Lebanon   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

By Laila Bassam and Maha El Dahan

BEIRUT -Lebanon’s Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah reassured supporters that he was well on Tuesday after coughing episodes during his last speech caused concerns about his health.

“A human being is a human being, you get sick or tired sometimes,” Nasrallah said in his first televised appearance since he coughed his way through a speech on May 25, when he said he was suffering from allergies and nothing serious.

Referring to social media rumours suggesting he had a grave illness, he said: “Some people killed us off and some started looking for a successor. I reassure them.”

Nasrallah has led the Iran-backed, armed Hezbollah movement for nearly three decades, turning it from one of Lebanon’s many civil war militias into a group of regional influence.

“There are some people who expressed their love and distributed bread and salt and wrote and called and I reassure these,” Nasrallah said. “I cherish their love and thank (them) all.”

Nasrallah made his comments while delivering a speech on Lebanon’s financial crisis and political deadlock.

He urged politicians to urgently form a new cabinet and said, without providing details, that Iran could alleviate his country’s economic problems if a “courageous” decision was taken.

Lebanon’s financial meltdown is escalating, with shortages of basic items such as food, fuel and medication worsening amidst political deadlock.

“We, Hezbollah, can go to Iran and negotiate with the Iranian government and buy shipments of fuel,” Nasrallah said.

The purchases, he said, would be made in Lebanese pounds and would not require long waits for the central bank to approve dollar allocations.

“These scenes of humiliation, people should not bear,” he said referring to long fuel lines in recent weeks.

Lebanon’s financial situation is complicated by the political deadlock as prime minister-designate Saad al-Hariri and President Michel Aoun squabble over naming ministers. Aoun is an ally of Hezbollah.

A new cabinet is needed to enact reforms that could unlock foreign aid.

“Those responsible for government formation need to listen to people’s voices and look with pain at the cars queueing up for fuel and the loss of electricity and medication,” Nasrallah said.