Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Syria 'to give Hezbollah key arms'

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah speaks via video during a conference in Beirut (AP)

Syria will supply Hezbollah with "game-changing weapons", its leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah says

He spoke less than a week after Israeli officials said Israeli aircraft twice struck shipments of advanced weapons believed to be bound for the Shiite Lebanese militia in Lebanon.

Syria has been the main conduit for Iranian weapons to Hezbollah, a sworn enemy of Israel.

"Syria will give the resistance special weapons it never had before," Nasrallah said in a speech. "We mean game-changing."

He said the shipments of new types of weapons would serve as the Syrian reaction to Israel's airstrikes.

Israeli officials said the Lebanese militia has tens of thousands of rockets, but that most of them are unguided. Israeli officials said the shipments targeted twice last week included precision-guided missiles.

After the Israeli attacks, there had been speculation about whether Syria would retaliate, at the risk of drawing Israel into Syria's civil war.

"This is the Syrian strategic reaction," said Nasrallah of future weapons shipments. "This is more important than firing a rocket or carrying out an airstrike in occupied Palestine." Hezbollah refers to Israel as part of "occupied Palestine".

Israel never formally acknowledged the airstrikes, but Israeli officials have said Israel would keep striking any shipments of advanced weapons meant for Hezbollah. If Syria were to attempt shipments of such weapons to Hezbollah, Israeli strikes appear likely and could lead to a major escalation in the 26-month-old Syria conflict.

Hezbollah and Iran have become increasingly involved in Syria's civil war, sending troops and military advisers to help Syrian President Bashar Assad fight armed rebels trying to oust him.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz