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Israel trying to sabotage Hezbollah – Syrian ties- Lebanese General | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Following Hezbollah’s denial that it was responsible for bombing the Al-Zabadani area of Syria – close to the Lebanese border – with Katyusha missiles last week, the Jerusalem Post published a report claiming that Israel believes Hezbollah has “received more surface-to-surface rockets, some of which can reach targets 300 km away.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, retired Lebanese army Brigadier General Amin Hoteit, an expert in Lebanese military and strategic affairs, stressed that “this information does not have any strategic, military, or even media value, particularly as Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah himself recently stated that his group now possesses advanced military capabilities, and is now capable of striking any part of Israel with its missiles.”

Brigadier General Amin Hoteit stressed that “Hezbollah does not deny that it possesses a military arsenal, and it is proud of this in its confrontation with Israel” adding “Nasrallah himself said ‘our men are everywhere, and our weapons are present on all fronts.’”

The Jerusalem Post report claimed that “the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] has changed its operational assessment regarding the threat from Lebanon and is currently working under the assumption that Hezbollah has obtained sophisticated long-range surface-to-air missile systems from Syria.” The report said “according to Western intelligence assessments, Hezbollah is believed to have taken advantage of the ongoing upheaval in Syria to obtain advanced weapons systems, such as additional long-range rockets as well as Russian-made air defense systems.”

The Jerusalem Post report added that “Hezbollah is also believed to have received several dozen more M600 long-range missiles, as well as additional 302 mm Khaibar-1 rockets, which have a range of about 100 km.” The Israeli report noted that “M600s, which are manufactured in Syria as a clone of Iran’s Fateh-110 [missile]…has a range of around 300 km…[and] can carry a half-ton warhead and has superior accuracy.”

Hoteit described the accusations leveled at Hezbollah, particularly with regards to the targeting of Al-Zabadani, as being “made by people who know nothing about the nature of military activity.”

He stressed that “if Hezbollah wanted to bomb Al-Zabadani from Lebanon they would have used bases known to the Lebanese army”. Hoteit told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the international news agencies quickly report the firing of any single rocket from southern [Lebanon]”, adding that in this case, why didn’t anybody report rockets being fired from southern Lebanon? He asserted that “these accusations are ridiculous and laughable, and do not deserve any response.”

The retired Lebanese Brigadier General stressed “the more important question is: why is Hezbollah being attacked and accused of being involved in the Syrian file?” adding “it is clear that the attack on Syria is not an attack on any figure or regime…but rather this is an attack on the ‘resistance’. This is the same ‘resistance’ that destroyed the US dream of leading the world, via its support of the Iraqi resistance and by preventing Israel from victory in the Lebanon July 2006 war.”

Hoteit also stated that “there is another reason for accusations against Hezbollah, which is the relationship between Syria and Lebanon and the relationship between the Syrian and Lebanese people, which disturbs the West and Israel, particularly following the Syrian support for the Lebanese in the July 2006 war.”

He added “they are gambling that the reports of Hezbollah bombing al-Zabadani will create a sense of anger amongst the Syrian people towards Hezbollah, and break the ties that bind Hezbollah with Syria.”

Hezbollah issued a statement earlier this week saying “After some Syrian opposition parties and Arab media accused Hezbollah of shelling the city of Al-Zabadani, Hezbollah deems this accusation silly, funny and baseless.”