Hezbollah leader: Iran could retaliate to Israeli strikes
The leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has warned that if Israel continues to target Iran’s presence in the region, Tehran could possibly retaliate by striking deep inside Israel.
BEIRUT — The leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah warned on Friday that if Israel continues to target Iran’s presence in the region, Tehran could possibly retaliate by striking deep inside Israel.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s warning came in a speech at a ceremony in Beirut marking “Quds Day”, or Jerusalem Day, a traditional show of support for the Palestinians. Hundreds of Hezbollah supporters and leaders of allied Palestinian groups were present.
Israel has staged hundreds of strikes over the years on targets in Syria — where Iran, like Hezbollah, backs President Bashar Assad’s forces — but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations. He admitted to targeting Iranian-allied militia bases, such as Hezbollah, in Syria. Israel says its attacks target Iranian entrenchment in neighboring Syria.
Hezbollah, one of Iran’s main arms in the region, was formed in the early 1980s during Lebanon’s civil war by Iranian officers and Tehran has been arming and funding the group ever since.
Nasrallah’s comments came two days after an Israeli missile strike in Syria killed four Syrian soldiers and injured others, according to Syrian state media. A Syrian opposition war monitor has reported a higher death toll for Wednesday morning’s strike that hit suburbs of the capital Damascus, saying it killed six Syrian soldiers and four fighters backed by Iran.
Last month, an Israeli missile attack on Damascus killed two colonels of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards. Iran retaliated soon after by firing surface-to-surface missiles at what it described as an Israeli spy center in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil.
“The Islamic Republic’s military posture is developing to such a level that if Israeli aggression continues against the Iranian presence in the region, it could hit Israel directly,” Nasrallah said.
The ceremony, on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, was Hezbollah’s first major rally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nasrallah said Iranian officials now believe “the time when we bring our martyrs” and hold funerals for them is over.
“We will avenge our martyrs. This is an important development,” Nasrallah said.