Hezbollah denies sending fighters to Ukraine amid Russian war
By Stephanie Rady
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AA) : Lebanese group Hezbollah has categorically denied sending fighters to Ukraine to support Russian troops as Moscow’s war on Kyiv enters its fourth week.
“I categorically deny any of these claims,” Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech late Friday. “These claims are lies that are bare of truth.”
“No one from Hezbollah, neither a fighter nor an expert, went to this battlefield,” Nasrallah said at the Al-Mahdi Scouts Anniversary Ceremony.
Kyiv had earlier claimed Moscow recruited about 1,000 fighters from Syria and Hezbollah to fight in Ukraine.
“The Russian occupiers, which have suffered huge losses during the war, have already recruited mercenaries from the troops under the command of (Syria’s) Bashar al-Assad regime and (Lebanese group) Hezbollah’s so-called army,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine alleged in a statement.
It came after Russian President Vladimir Putin last week gave the green light for volunteers from the Middle East to be deployed alongside Moscow-backed rebels to fight in Ukraine.
At a meeting of Russia’s Security Council in Moscow, Putin said: “If you see that there are people who want to come on a voluntary basis, not for money, and support people living in Donbas, well, we need to come to meet them and help them move to the war zone.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had said there were 16,000 volunteers in the Middle East who were ready to come to fight alongside Russian-backed forces in in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Russia’s “special military operation,” which started on Feb. 24, has drawn international condemnation, led to severe financial restrictions on Moscow and spurred an exodus of global firms from Russia.
At least 816 civilians have been killed and 1,333 injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, and more than 3.27 million people have fled to neighboring countries, according to UN estimates.
*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara
[Photo: Evacuation of civilians from secure corridors continues in Mariupol, Ukraine as they are being attacked by Russia on March 18, 2022. Photographer: Leon Klein/AA]
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