Hezbollah leader Sayed Hassan Nasrallah says Israel would not be ‘neutral’ if a war starts between the US and Iran.
The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah has warned that Iran “is able to bombard Israel with ferocity and force” if a war breaks out with the United States.
Sayed Hassan Nasrallah’s remarks were broadcast on the movement’s Al-Manar television on Friday, following weeks of increasing tensions between the United States and Iran.
“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 towards preventing an American war on Iran.”
He said neither Saudi Arabia nor the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had any interest in conflict.
On Friday, the US House of Representatives voted to restrict Trump’s ability to attack Iran, voicing fear that his hawkish policies are pushing towards a needless war.
The US considers Hezbollah – the only faction not to have disarmed after the Lebanese 1975-1990 civil war – a “terrorist” organisation.
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.
Syria presence downgraded
Nasrallah also said he had decreased the number of his movement’s fighters supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s government in neighbouring 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 Shia 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 swaths of territory from rebels groups since 2015, and now controls around 60 percent of the country.
Nasrallah spoke after Washington announced fresh sanctions 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 Syrian and Russian forces have increased deadly bombardments since late April.
But “if there was a need to return, all those who were there would go back” to Syria, he added.
Tel Aviv ‘within range’
Responding to a question about repeated Israeli air raids on Syria, he said 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 attacks in neighbouring Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah military targets. It has vowed to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily in the country.
Nasrallah’s interview came to mark the anniversary of 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 United Nations peacekeeping force has said three tunnels have been found, 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”.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA