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Hezbollah says Has Right to Possess Air Defenses - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Lebanon's Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah gestures as he addresses the crowds in a televised speech from an undisclosed location during a rally held in the southern suburbs of Beirut. (AFP)

Lebanon’s Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah gestures as he addresses the crowds in a televised speech from an undisclosed location during a rally held in the southern suburbs of Beirut. (AFP)

BEIRUT, (AP) – The leader of Hezbollah said Monday that his militant group has the right to possess air-defense weapons to face the Israeli warplanes that regularly fly over Lebanon.

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, however, refused to confirm or deny persistent Israeli reports that Hezbollah may have acquired anti-aircraft missiles.

He did say an air defense system would change the balance of power by shattering Israel’s air superiority after Hezbollah managed to withstand Israel’s air, ground and sea bombardment during their 2006 war.

Nasrallah spoke via a video link to a rally commemorating last year’s assassination of Hezbollah’s top military commander, Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed by a car bomb in Syria. Hezbollah blames Israel, which has denied involvement.

Nasrallah said Israeli media report occasionally that Hezbollah has acquired sophisticated air defense missiles.

“I will not deny or confirm” the reports, Nasrallah said, but added that such weapons would weaken Israeli air power and change the region’s power equation.

“What I want to confirm today is that we have the full right to possess any weapons, including air defense weapons. Also, we have the full right to use this weapon if we want,” he said.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006 that killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, most of them civilians, and 159 in Israel. Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets at Israel.

Hezbollah supporters watch their leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah on a screen during a rally to mark the first anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah senior commander Imad Mughniyeh in Beirut's suburbs. (R)

Hezbollah supporters watch their leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah on a screen during a rally to mark the first anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah senior commander Imad Mughniyeh in Beirut’s suburbs. (R)

Lebanon's Hezbollah supporters gesture as watch Hezbollah leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah on screens during a rally in Beirut's suburbs. (R)

Lebanon’s Hezbollah supporters gesture as watch Hezbollah leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah on screens during a rally in Beirut’s suburbs. (R)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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