Lebanon's Hezbollah denies possessing chemical weapons

AFP , Tuesday 4 Sep 2012

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah denies Israeli accusations that the Shia Islamist group is in possession of Syrian chemical weapons

Leader of Lebanon's Hassan Nasrallah. (Photo: Reuters)

The leader of the powerful Lebanese Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, on Monday denied that his group possessed chemical weapons.

"We don't have chemical weapons and we cannot use them for reasons linked to the Sharia and for humanitarian reasons," Nasrallah said in an interview with Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen channel, which champions Hezbollah's cause.

At the end of July, a number of Israeli officials warned against a possible transfer of Syrian chemical weapons to Hezbollah, an ally of Damascus.

The Syrian regime, gripped by an unprecedented revolt for 18 months, admitted in July for the first time that it possessed chemical weapons and threatened to use them in the event of foreign military intervention.

Nasrallah, who rarely grants interviews, said that in the case of "enemy attacks" against Lebanon, Hezbollah would not be content to "defend itself" but would "enter Galilee".

In February 2011, the armed movement threatened to invade this region of northern Israel in the event of an Israeli attack.

Following Hezbollah's abduction of two Israeli soldiers on the border, the Israeli army launched an offensive into Lebanon in July and August 2006 to punish a movement that managed to fire 4,000 rockets into northern Israel.

While ruling out a future Israeli war against Iran, the sponsor of Hezbollah, Nasrallah said he had information from Iranian leaders that "the retaliation from Tehran will be great" in the event of an Israeli attack.

"Iran will not be conciliatory in the case of a strike against its nuclear facilities," he said, indicating that the Islamic Republic could even retaliate by targeting "American bases in the region".

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