Arab League condemns Hezbollah's role in Syria

CAIRO Wed Jun 5, 2013 8:41pm BST

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Arab League on Wednesday condemned the military intervention in Syria by the Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah, Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby said.

A resolution issued after a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo expressed "strong condemnation" of all forms of foreign intervention, especially that by Hezbollah, he said.

Hezbollah and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose ruling establishment are mostly members of an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, seized the border town of Qusair from rebels on Wednesday.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Iranian-backed group, has said Hezbollah will stay in the Syrian war and bring victory to Assad, a staunch ally of Iran.

The Arab League includes the influential Sunni Muslim Gulf states Saudi Arabia and Qatar, major supporters of the rebellion against Assad. The Syrian government was suspended from the 22-member body in 2011.

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi's national security adviser, Essam El-Haddad, described Hezbollah's role in Syria as a crime and a mistake in comments published on Tuesday.

But the Arab League's condemnation did not go as far as Bahrain, which has defined Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.

The Arab meeting aimed to forge a common position for a peace conference, which the international envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said on Wednesday could take place in July.

The Arab League resolution said Syria would need a U.N. peacekeeping force during a period of interim government envisaged by an international peace plan.

It also reiterated support for the idea of a transitional government formed by mutual consent between the parties to the civil war, and including members of the Damascus government.

But Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said Assad would have no role in that government.

"The transitional council will have full powers. This means Assad has no role ... all his authorities will be transferred to the transitional authority, including defence and security," he told the news conference.

(Reporting by Shaimaa Fayed and Tom Perry; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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