The Daily Star of Lebanon reported yesterday that in the wake of the rebel bombing of Damascus on Wednesday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made a statement in support of Assad and the embattled regime. Inconveniently enough, by some reports, Assad went on killed as many as 250 people yesterday (mostly civilians), the highest death toll yet.

“The most important weapons in which we fought Israel during the [2006] July war came from Syria,” Nasrallah said, adding, “Syria risked its presence and regime for the sake of the resistance.”

Nasrallah, who started the Second Lebanon War in 2006, loves to bank on the regional prestige he and Hezbollah earned in not being overwhelmed by Israel in combat. For that he is a Shiite beloved by Sunnis. When I visited Ramallah in the summer of 2006, there were few items more curious than the sketches of Nasrallah for sale on the street, right there beside the ones of Arafat.

But what Nasrallah seemed to care little about then was that the 2006 war brought about the death of over one thousand Lebanese civilians and caused over a billion dollars of damage to infrastructure in Southern Lebanon and Beirut. Despite some sheepish remarks at the time, with enough spin, he convinced people that the war had been worth it. But this cavalier disregard for the tolls of war now bleeds into Syria, where his ally Assad has murdered over 17,000 of his own people in the past 16 months, many of them Sunni.

One can only hope that once the dust clears in Damascus, the decades-long thoroughfare between Hezbollah and Iran, Nasrallah will finally be understood in the region for what he truly is: a mercenary on a pulpit.

Nasrallah renews support for Assad [Daily Star]
250 people killed in highest Syria death toll