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Hezbollah Leader Appears at 'Victory' Rally in Beirut


Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah told a massive rally of supporters in southern Beirut Friday that his party will never forcibly surrender its weapons.

Nasrallah told hundreds of thousands of supporters that his militant group possesses more than 20,000 rockets, and that it will never give up its weapons until Lebanon is capable of defending itself from Israel.

Nasrallah said the United Nations peacekeeping force was unlikely to hurt his weapons cache, which he said was larger now than before the beginning of the 34-day conflict with Israel.

As he celebrated what his group calls its "divine victory," he also said he would not release two Israeli soldiers, whose capture triggered the month-long war that ended August 14.

Nasrallah's attendance at the rally was his first appearance since the conflict began.

Israel began pounding Hezbollah outposts in southern Lebanon after the group abducted the two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12.

Israel and Hezbollah both claim to have won the recent 34-day war.

The fighting killed nearly 1,200 people in Lebanon and 157 Israelis. Most of the Israelis who died were soldiers, while those killed in Lebanon were mostly civilians.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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