Israel could be ‘wiped out’ in a war with Iran, Hezbollah leader warns

An image grab taken from Hezbollah's al-Manar TV on July 12, 2019, shows Hasan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon's militant Shiite movement Hezbollah, giving an interview in Lebanon. (AFP / AL-MANAR TV)
Updated 13 July 2019

Israel could be ‘wiped out’ in a war with Iran, Hezbollah leader warns

  • Nasrallah said Israel would not be “neutral” if a war broke out between the US and Iran
  • And Iran can bombard Israel with ferocity and force, he said on Hezbollah TV

BEIRUT: The head of Lebanon’s Tehran-backed Hezbollah said Friday that US ally Israel would not be “neutral” if a war broke out between the United States and Iran.
And “Iran is able to bombard Israel with ferocity and force,” Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview broadcast on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television.
His remarks came after weeks of increasing tensions between the US and Iran, and as US President Donald Trump steps up his war of words with the Islamic Republic.
“When the Americans understand that this war could wipe out Israel, they will reconsider,” Nasrallah said.
“Our collective responsibility in the region is to work toward preventing an American war on Iran,” he said.
On Friday, the US House of Representatives voted to restrict Trump’s ability to attack Iran, voicing fear that his hawkish policies are pushing toward a needless war.
Hezbollah is considered to be a terrorist organization by the United States, and is the only faction not to have disarmed after the Lebanese 1975-1990 civil war.
But it is also a major political player in the small Mediterranean country, taking 13 seats in parliament last year and securing three posts in the current cabinet.
Nasrallah also said he had decreased the number of his movement’s fighters supporting the Damascus regime in neighboring war-torn Syria.
“The Syrian army has greatly recovered and has found that today it does not need us,” he said.
“We are present in every area that we used to be. We are still there, but we don’t need to be there in large numbers as long as there is no practical need,” he said.
The head of the Iran-backed Shiite movement, which has been fighting in Syria since 2013, did not give details on the extent of the reduction.
Backed by Russia and Iran, the Damascus government has taken back large swathes of territory from rebels and jihadists since 2015, and now controls around 60 percent of the country.
Nasrallah spoke after Washington announced fresh sanctions Tuesday against Hezbollah, targeting elected officials from the movement for the first time.
Nasrallah said none of his fighters were currently involved in fighting in Syria’s northwestern region of Idlib, where regime and Russian forces have increased deadly bombardments on a jihadist-run bastion since late April.
But “if there was a need to return, all those who were there would go back” to Syria, he added.
Responding to a question about repeated Israeli air strikes on Syria, he said the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “deceiving his people.”
“He is playing a game of brinkmanship, because Iran will not leave Syria,” he warned.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in neighboring Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah military targets. It has vowed to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily there.
Nasrallah’s interview came to mark the start of his movement’s 2006 war with Israel, which killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
Both countries are still technically at war, and a UN peacekeeping force has said three tunnels have been found to have dug under the border from Lebanon into Israel since late last year.
The group’s leader warned that key Israeli installations along the Mediterranean coast including Tel Aviv were “within range of our rockets.”


Syria troops fight Turkish forces alongside Kurds: monitor

Updated 19 min 20 sec ago

Syria troops fight Turkish forces alongside Kurds: monitor

  • The forces were fighting alongside each other in Ain Issa town against Turkish soldiers
  • A monitor says two Syrian soldiers died in shelling by former rebels paid and equipped by Ankara

BEIRUT: The Syrian army deployed alongside Kurdish forces on the front line in northern Syria Wednesday but their newfound cooperation saw no let-up in the week-old Turkish invasion, a monitor said.
In a rare scene in Syria’s eight-year-old civil war, government troops and Kurdish fighters were “fighting together” against Turkey’s Syrian proxies northeast of the town of Ain Issa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Britain-based monitor reported “violent clashes” near the M4 highway — a key east-west artery that links the Kurdish heartland in the northeast with Syria’s second city Aleppo and the Mediterranean coast beyond.
Under the deal announced on Sunday after President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of US troops, government troops have returned to key Kurdish-held areas for the first time in years.
Syrian soldiers have been sent to Manbij, Tal Tamr, Ain Issa and Tabqa in their most significant deployment since the army started withdrawing from Kurdish-majority areas in 2012.
Russia’s special envoy on Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, said Turkish and Syrian officials were in contact to avoid clashes which “would simply be unacceptable.”
But two Syrian soldiers were killed near Ain Issa on Tuesday in shelling by Turkey’s Syrian proxies — mostly former rebels paid and equipped by Ankara, the Observatory said.
On Monday, artillery fire by the Syrian former rebels killed another soldier in the flashpoint city of Manbij, it added.
In the border town of Ras Al-Ain, where Kurdish fighters have put up stiff resistance against Ankara’s incursion, battles raged on Wednesday following a night of heavy Turkish air strikes and artillery fire, the monitor said.
Since its launch on October 9, the Turkish offensive has killed dozens of civilians, mostly on the Kurdish side, and prompted at least 160,000 to flee their homes.