Hezbollah says Syria to supply group with 'game-changing' arms

AFP , Thursday 9 May 2013

Lashing out against official Arab silence over Israel's recent strike against Syria, Hezbollah leader says Assad government will supply Lebanese resistance group with 'game-changing weapons'

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah speaks via video during a conference, held in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday May, 9, 2013. (AP Photo)

Syria will supply Israeli arch enemy Hezbollah with "game-changing weapons" despite air strikes reportedly aimed at cutting off the flow of arms to the Lebanese Shiite group, its leader said on Thursday.

"You Israelis say your objective is to stop the capability of the resistance (against Israel) from growing... but Syria will provide (Hezbollah) with game-changing weapons it has not had before," Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

The movement, a long-sworn enemy of Israel, fought a bitter war against Israel in 2006 in which parts of Lebanon were devastated.

Nasrallah spoke days after Israel reportedly carried out two air strikes near Damascus.

Syria's response, he said, "is highly strategic" and involves "opening to resistance fighters the front in the Golan" Heights, which were captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.

"If you (Israel) see Syria as a corridor of arms to (Hezbollah), Syria will provide the resistance with those arms. This is a highly strategic decision," said Nasrallah.

Such a response "is more strategic than launching a rocket or carrying out an air raid" on Israel, he added.

Hezbollah has remained a staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime throughout the country's conflict, which the UN said has killed more than 70,000 people.

Nasrallah recently acknowledged that Hezbollah fighters were backing loyalist troops in Syria who are fighting to crush an anti-regime insurgency.

He has systematically backed Assad's claims that the violence in Syria is the product of a foreign conspiracy aimed at crushing the anti-Israel axis.

Nasrallah said "Israel says it wants to push Syria out of the equation of the Arab-Israeli conflict".

He described any future opening of the Golan front "and the declared opening of the door to jihad (holy war) to fighters from the Golan" as "the second strategic answer" to Israel's strikes.

"We are ready to receive any kind of game-changing weapons, even if it breaks the power balance (with Israel)... We deserve such weapons, and we will use the weapons to defend our people and our country."

"Just as Syria stood by the Lebanese people and gave moral and financial backing to its people's resistance, we announce that we stand by the side of the Syrian resistance," said Hezbollah's chief, pledging "moral, financial and logistical support for the liberation of the Syrian Golan."

Israel "knows that among the main sources of strength" of the region's resistance movements are "Syria and, of course, the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Iran funnels arms through Syria to the Shiite movement Hezbollah.

"Everyone knows how much Syria has given to the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance" against Israel, said Nasrallah.

"In the whole of Arab history, no other Arab regime has given us as much as President Bashar al-Assad's regime has," he added.

Nasrallah said it is because of this support that Israel "carried out an air strike on Damascus and near Damascus... regardless of the accuracy of its claimed targets."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes killed 42 soldiers.

While Israel has not officially acknowledged the strikes, an Israeli official said they were aimed at a rockets shipment intended for Hezbollah.

Damascus said the strikes hit Syrian army bases.

In his speech, Nasrallah lashed out against Arab governments' silence over Israel's strike on Syria.

Some "Arab states have become readier than ever to give up (to Israel)... after the Arab Spring" that brought down several dictators in the region, he said.

Nasrallah meanwhile called on "the free and honourable in the Arab and Muslim world" to take action to bring about "a settlement" and "political solution" in Syria."

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