Lebanon's Hezbollah leader denies storing arms at Beirut blast site

WION Web Team Beirut, Lebanon Aug 08, 2020, 06.35 AM(IST)

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Photograph:( AFP )

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The blast injured at least 5,000 people and devastated entire districts of the capital, leaving some 300,000 people temporarily homeless.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has denied the involvement of his powerful Shiite movement in the Beirut explosion that killed more than 150 people.

The blast injured at least 5,000 people and devastated entire districts of the capital, leaving some 300,000 people temporarily homeless.

Nasrallah said they had not stored arms at Beirut's port, describing the cataclysmic explosion there as "a major tragedy". 

"We have nothing in the port: not an arms depot, nor a missile depot nor missiles nor rifles nor bombs nor bullets nor (ammonium) nitrate," Nasrallah said in a televised speech three days after the blast in the Lebanese capital.

He called the explosion a "major tragedy and humanitarian catastrophe," saying it required a kind of response that would match its "exceptional" scale.

An investigation by authorities has so far led to 21 arrests, as well as travel bans and asset freezes.

Authorities had said a fire at the port had ignited tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored there for years, but President Michel Aoun said Friday it could have been caused by an attack.

The Hezbollah leader warned against delays in the probe, saying: "If the Lebanese state and the political class... do not reach a conclusion in the investigations this means... there is no hope to build a state."

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday made a snap, but influential, visit to Beirut, where he pressed leaders for change and announced an international aid conference in the coming days.

He met with several Lebanese leaders, including Hezbollah representatives on his one-day trip.

Hezbollah is the only group not to have disarmed after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, and it fought Israeli troops who occupied southern Lebanon until 2000.