BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah accused radical Sunni Islamists on Friday of being behind a car bomb that killed 24 people in Beirut and vowed that the attack would redouble his group's commitment to its military campaign in Syria.
In a fiery speech to supporters, one day after the deadliest bombing in the capital since Lebanon's civil war ended two decades ago, Nasrallah raised the stakes by pledging to join the battle in Syria himself if needed.
Thursday's blast in the Shi'ite militant Hezbollah's south Beirut stronghold followed months of sectarian tension and violence in Lebanon fuelled in part by Hezbollah's intervention against Sunni Muslim rebels in Syria's civil war.
"It is most likely that a takfiri group was responsible for yesterday's explosion," Nasrallah said, referring to radical Sunni Muslim factions linked to al Qaeda, many of whom are fighting with Syrian rebels against President Bashar al-Assad.
"If you think by killing our women and children ... and destroying our neighborhoods, we would retreat from the position we took (in Syria) you are wrong," he said in a combative speech broadcast by videolink from a secret location to his supporters.
"If we had 100 fighters in Syria, now they will be 200. If we had 1,000, they will be 2,000. If we had 5,000 they will be 10,000. If the battle with these takfiri terrorists requires that I and all Hezbollah should go to Syria, we will go."