Days after Israeli air raids flew near Damascus, allegedly targeting weapons destined to Hezbollah, Nasrallah again confirmed his intention to aid Syria in reclaiming the Israeli-occupied Golan region. “Just as Syria supported the resistance in defending and liberating the south of Lebanon,” he stated.
Reiterating that the only solution to the crisis in Syria is a compromise involving all parties, Nasrallah criticized Arab countries for not acting to their full capacity to end the conflict. “It is a shame that the US is considering Syria’s interests while the Arabs appear to be adding to the destruction of Syria. This aids the interests of the enemy,” he declared.
Broadcasting via a large screen at a press conference, Nasrallah addressed Israel saying: “You say the objective of Israeli aggression is to thwart the growing capacity of the resistance. Take note that Syria will provide arms to the resistance and this is a strategic decision at large.”
“The second strategy,” he added, “is the opening of the Golan front, turning a threat into an opportunity. The door has been opened for popular resistance in Golan.”
In a related development, the Philippines is planning to withdraw its soldiers on peacekeeping duties in the Golan Heights due to the abduction of four Filipino soldiers on Tuesday, the second incident of abduction in the past two months. The Associated Press reported that Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary, Albert del Rosario, deemed the risk of peacekeepers in the region “beyond tolerable limits.”
On the other hand, US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed concern over reports confirming that Russia was selling advanced weapons, including “S-300” rockets, to Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. Israel added to this by indicating that the deal between the two nations will be completed in three months.
Kerry avoided commenting on the S-300 missiles specifically. He did say, however, that the US would prefer if Russia did not sell weapons to Assad and mentioned a previous rejection of transfer of weapons to Syria.
Israeli information also indicated that the Assad regime will pay more than USD 900 million for the four batteries required by the army. Tel Aviv confirmed financial transfers from the Syrian government via the Russian Foreign Development Bank.
Though it is believed the White House has verified information on Russian missiles heading to Syria, spokesman Jay Carney refused to disclose details on the issue. He told the press: “We aware of the validity of these reports but we don’t know exactly how much weaponry is being transferred between the two countries. We have repeatedly asked Russia to stop providing weapons, including air defence systems that could destabilize the entire region.”
Syria’s Minister of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection, Qadri Jameel, expressed hope that the international conference to be held at the end of this month will result in a government of national unity with the participation of all Syrian parties.
Hiba Al-Qudsi contributed reporting from Washington and Nathir Majali contributed reporting from Tel Aviv.