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Hezbollah's Leader Appears in Public for First Time in Over a Year


The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah group, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, appeared in public Saturday for the first time in more than a year to participate in the Ashura procession, one of the most important Shi'ite religious events.

The head of the Shi'ite militant group, who is on Israel's most wanted list, marched with tens of thousands of his supporters in the Hezbollah stronghold of southern Beirut, and then addressed the crowd.

Nasrallah said his group is holding the remains of many Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon during the 2006 war with Hezbollah, claiming that they were left behind by Israel.

The Hezbollah chief made a similar claim in an earlier interview, when he suggested negotiations could be held for the return of those remains. Israel rejected the claim at the time.

Nasrallah last appeared in public in September 2006 at what was called a "Victory Rally" marking the end of a month-long war.

Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid in July 2006 triggered the war that killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon - most of them civilians - and about 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

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