Hezbollah and allies celebrate majority in Lebanese election
Hezbollah has hailed a "great victory" in Lebanon's election, after the Iran-backed group and its allies looked set to secure a majority in parliament.
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, said that the results of Sunday's vote were a "political and moral victory for the resistance", referring to the Iran-backed movement formed in the 1980s to fight Israel.
In a televised address made before the official results were announced, he said the significant gains made by Hezbollah and its allies vindicated the group's military activities.
The Shia movement, grouped with the Christian party of President Michel Aoun and the Shia Amal movement, is set to secure at least 67 seats in the 128-seat parliament, which will enable them to veto any laws the militant group opposes.
With backing from Iran, Hezbollah has grown from fledgling resistance group to one of the most powerful militias in the region.
Since the country's last vote, in 2009, Hezbollah has sent thousands of its fighters across the border to the war in Syria in a bid to shore up Bashar al-Assad, who is also backed by Tehran.
Its increasingly important position in Lebanon reflects Iran's ascendancy in territory stretching through Iraq and Syria to Beirut.
Neighbouring Israel has also watched on nervously as Hezbollah has been building up its presence in Syria, as well as an enormous arsenal of missiles - now reported to be 100,000-strong.
An Israeli security cabinet minister said the early results showed that Israel should not distinguish between the Lebanese state and Hezbollah in any future war, the prospect of which now seems more likely than ever.
"Hezbollah = Lebanon," Naftali Bennett, education minister and leader of Israel's right-wing Jewish Home party, wrote on Twitter on Monday.
"The State of Israel ... will view Lebanon as responsible for any action from within its territory."
© Daily Telegraph, London