BEIRUT -- The chief of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, accused Saudi Arabia on Friday of declaring war against Lebanon and keeping outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri against his will in Riyadh.
Tensions heightened in the region since Hariri announced his resignation last week during a trip to the Saudi capital, where he has been staying ever since.
Saudi Arabia has been leading its Sunni allies in a regional rivalry with Iran, accusing Tehran of trying to stir trouble in the region, and has lashed out at Hezbollah.
Nasrallah, in response, said that Saudi Arabia had forced Hariri to resign.
"The language that Saudi officials are using is a war on Lebanon and not on Hezbollah," Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
"Hariri is being held in Saudi Arabia and is not allowed to return to Lebanon," he added, describing his resignation as "illegal and unconstitutional" because it happened "under coercion."
Riyadh has previously denied the allegation and said Hariri, a Sunni politician who also holds a Saudi passport, is free to leave the kingdom.
In his resignation message, Hariri said his life was in danger and accused Iran and Hezbollah of destabilizing his country and the Arab region.
His Future Movement parliamentary bloc urged him on Thursday to return to Lebanon and earlier Friday, prominent Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblat also said that it was time for Hariri to come back home.
In his first comments since Hariri's resignation last Saturday, President Michel Aoun said the circumstances of Hariri's sudden resignation need to be clarified.