Hezbollah's Nasrallah warms to dialogue in Syria

May 14, 2012 at 11:14 AM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, May 14 (UPI) -- Syrians have a choice between national dialogue or a situation like the one in Iraq, the leader of Shiite movement Hezbollah said.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah condemned the series of bombings in Damascus but said claims the Syrian government was behind the attacks were baseless.

The BBC reports that an unnamed radical Islamic group claimed responsibility for an attack in Damascus last week. Officials had said the operation bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida.

A U.N. observation team is monitoring the terms of a cease-fire brokered by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Conflict has continued despite an agreement on an early April deadline to end the fighting.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague had said it appeared the terms of the cease-fire weren't being implemented fully.

Nasrallah, in a televised speech delivered in southern Beirut, said Syrians "are faced with two choices, either dialogue and elections or the current (Iraq-like) model," the news service Now Lebanon reports.

Iraq teetered at the brink of civil war at the height of the U.S.-led operation. The political climate remains tense despite the end of the U.S. military mission.

Nasrallah told WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, during an April interview broadcast by Russian television network RT, that Hezbollah called on the Syrian opposition to negotiate with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Shiite leader and Syrian ally said the opposition in Syria wasn't ready for political dialogue, however.

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