BEIRUT (AFP) – Hezbollah has shot back at US accusations it was stockpiling sophisticated weapons and vowed to continue to build its artillery, in comments published on Wednesday.
“Our choice was and remains to secure all the arms of resistance that we can,” Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah told the Arabic-language newspaper As-Safir, which is close to the Shiite militant group.
The daily ran a front-page headline that read “Washington and Tel Aviv push missile hoax to brink of war” and quoted Fadlallah as saying Hezbollah’s arms did not compare to the “armament” and “crimes” of the United States and its ally Israel.
Hezbollah’s arms do not compare to “the level of armament of the United States, which it used in its crimes against peoples around the world, from Hiroshima to the more than 100,000 martyrs killed in Iraq and the tens of thousands killed in Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan,” Fadlallah said.
“There is a difference between arms which only serve invasions, occupations and aggressions, such as those of the United States and its ally Israel … and the arms of a resistance which defends, protects, and liberates,” he added.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday accused Iran and Syria of arming Hezbollah with increasingly sophisticated rockets and missiles which he said undermined stability in the region.
Hezbollah had “far more rockets and missiles than most governments in the world, and this is obviously destabilising for the whole region and we’re watching it very carefully,” Gates said at a joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak in Washington.
His comments came amid heightened tension in the Middle East after Israel earlier this month accused Syria of smuggling Scud ballistic missiles to its Lebanese ally Hezbollah, the only group that did not disarm after Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.
Hezbollah officials were not immediately available for comment Wednesday.