BEIRUT — The leader of Hezbollah is urging high turnout in Lebanon's parliamentary elections.

In a speech to supporters in the eastern city of Baalbek on Tuesday, Hassan Nasrallah says the group needs "political protection" against those conspiring against it, and that "this protection is afforded by your votes."

Lebanon is holding its first parliamentary elections in nearly a decade on Sunday. The Iranian-backed militant group, which has sent thousands of its fighters to Syria to shore up President Bashar Assad's forces, is campaigning to maintain and expand its presence in parliament, along with its allies.

Nasrallah said "the victories and achievements for which a very high cost was paid should be protected with your votes."

Hezbollah's involvement in the Syria war is controversial in Lebanon.