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Hezbollah Leader Declares Group Has 100,000 'Trained & Experienced' Fighters - Report

© AP Photo / Hassan Ammar In this May 31, 2019 file photo, Hezbollah fighters march at a rally to mark Jerusalem day or Al-Quds day, in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon. On Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah revealed that his militant group has 100,000 trained fighters.
 In this May 31, 2019 file photo, Hezbollah fighters march at a rally to mark Jerusalem day or Al-Quds day, in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon. On Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah revealed that his militant group has 100,000 trained fighters. - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.10.2021
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Tensions have been high in Lebanon, where, in addition to an already difficult economic situation, armed clashes took place on Thursday during protests over the lengthy probe into the Beirut port blast. The gunfight in Lebanon's capital last week has evoked memories of the country's bloodiest period, the 1975-90 civil war.
Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah has revealed the size of the Shiite group's militant branch, media reported on Monday, which is as many as 100,000 trained fighters.
Nasrallah underscored that Hezbollah's fighters were prepared to fight in defense of Lebanon's land, oil, and gas, which were "being stolen before the eyes of the Lebanese," rather than internal conflicts, according to the report. The violence marked a pivotal "new stage" for the group in terms of how it handles internal issues, he reportedly added.
If true, it would outnumber Lebanon's official military forces, which are reported to have around 85,000 servicemembers.
Nasrallah's statements came as Hezbollah and its allies chastise judge Tarek Bitar's oversight of the probe into the Beirut port explosion, calling for his dismissal. According to Hezbollah officials, the judge's investigation is leaning toward holding them guilty for the massive explosion.
Lebanese security forces react to gunfire during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.10.2021
Hezbollah MP Equates Clashes in Beirut to a Massacre, Urges Instigators Face Justice
In his statements on Monday, Nasrallah reportedly accused the leader of the right-wing Christian Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, of "manufacturing" violence in Beirut's Tayuneh neighborhood, calling him a criminal and a killer.
"The real program for the Lebanese Forces is civil war," Nasrallah is quoted as saying. "The biggest threat to the social peace in Lebanon is the Lebanese Forces."
Nasrallah reportedly warned Geagea against "miscalculating."
The Hezbollah leader also emphasized that those who accuse the movement of spreading violence must first provide evidence, and questioned why their calls to replace the judge overseeing the probe was seen as a threat.
Hezbollah and another Shia organization, Amal, issued a joint statement on Thursday, in which they said the attack on protesters was aimed at "plunging the country into strife."
The gunfight came as Lebanon is struggling with a tough economic crisis, aggravated by a fuel shortage. Hezbollah earlier arranged a deal to deliver Iranian oil to the crisis-hit country. The move, however, was condemned both by Western countries and the Lebanese prime minister, with fears that it could lead to sanctions against Lebanon.
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