BEIRUT – Hezbollah’s leader denied on Friday accusations that his Iran-backed movement has arms warehoused at Beirut port, backing an investigation into a huge blast there that rocked the city.
In a televised speech, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called Tuesday’s explosion “an exceptional event” in Lebanon’s modern history that required unity and calm. The heavily armed Shi’ite Hezbollah would make its “strong” political position clear later, after the dust settles, he added.
Nasrallah praised the solidarity and aid pouring in from around the world, including a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron. He said this presented an opportunity for Lebanon, already deep in financial crisis, to come out of hardship.
Rescuers were sifting rubble to find anyone still alive after the explosion that killed 154 people, injured 5,000, and smashed a swathe of the Mediterranean city.
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said the investigation would examine whether the cause was outside interference such as a bomb, negligence or an accident. Officials have said explosive material was stored unsafely for years at the port.
Nasrallah said that from right after the blast, some political powers in Lebanon and the region had sought to blame Hezbollah – which is a big backer of the current government along with its allies.
“The fires were still raging … and they came out in the media with preconceived statements,” he said.
“They want to say to Beirut’s people that those who destroyed your homes and killed your children are Hezbollah,” he added. “I absolutely, categorically deny the presence of any missiles or any material for us in any warehouse at the port.”
Hezbollah wants a just investigation to reveal the truth and strict accountability for anyone responsible, he said.