Hezbollah brag of 100,000-strong force aimed at foes at home

Lebanon Hezbollah

BEIRUT (AP) — A boast by the leader of Hezbollah that he commands 100,000 fighters came as a surprise to many Lebanese, not least because it was addressed to a domestic audience rather than the militia's archenemy Israel.

Experts say the figure, which exceeds the size of Lebanon's army by about 15,000 troops, is an exaggeration. But Hassan Nasrallah's brag is likely to further ratchet up anxiety about a return to sectarian fighting in the small country roiled by a series of devastating crises.

“This is more about flexing Hezbollah’s muscles to demonstrate its power against other opposing political parties that want to undermine it,” said Dina Arakji, a researcher at Control Risks, a Dubai-based global risk consultancy group.

Nasrallah made the declaration Monday as part of the growing confrontation over a judicial investigation into last year’s massive Beirut port explosion that killed more than 215 peop