Hezbollah Leader Says Syria Provided the Rockets It Used Against Israel in 2006 War

Patrick Goodenough | July 19, 2012 | 4:59am EDT
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Hezbollah supporters wave a Syrian flag with a picture of President Bashar Assad as he listens to a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, during a rally in Beirut marking the sixth anniversary of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

(CNSNews.com) – The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah on Wednesday extolled the Assad regime in Syria and disclosed that it was the source of the “most important” rockets, which his group fired into Israel during a brief but bloody war in 2006.

Hassan Nasrallah also suggested that the United States was responsible for the crisis now faced by President Bashar Assad’s regime.

In a bellicose televised speech marking the sixth anniversary of the 34-day conflict, which the Shi’ite group maintains it won, Nasrallah called the Syrian regime a key supporter of his group.

“Syria is a big problem for the Americans and Israelis because Syria is the real supporter for the Resistance and especially at the military level,” Hezbollah’s al-Manar television network quoted him as saying. (Hezbollah styles itself “the Resistance.”)

“For example, the most important missiles that were falling on Haifa and central Israel were Syrian missiles, offered by Syria to the Resistance,” he added.

During the war in the summer of 2006 – triggered by a cross-border raid by Hezbollah fighters who killed eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two others – Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into Israel, reaching as far south as Hadera, around 50 miles south of the border.

The war killed 1,200 Lebanese, according to that country’s government, and 159 Israelis, according to the Israeli government.

Within three years of the end of hostilities – and despite U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for Hezbollah to be disarmed – Israel said the group had rearmed in preparation for a future conflict, with Syrian and Iranian help, and had accumulated a stockpile of more than 40,000 rockets.

In his speech, Nasrallah said Syria had similarly supplied rockets smuggled into the Gaza Strip to be used by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas against targets in southern Israel.

“The missiles delivered to Gaza managed to force more than a million settlers to stay in bunkers and frightened Tel Aviv,” he said. “When the Arab regimes were barring bread and money from entering Gaza, Syria was sending weapons along with food for Gaza.”

Nasrallah suggested that the U.S. was ultimately to blame for the conflict now raging in Syria.

“They sought after the July [2006] war to destroy the Syrian army and the U.S. took advantage of rightful demands for the Syrian people, prevented dialogue and turned Syria into a war zone because the objective is destroying and fragmenting Syria, like they did in Iraq,” he said.

Cheering Hezbollah supporters listen to a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, seen on a projection screen, during a rally in Beirut marking the sixth anniversary of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Nasrallah also expressed condolences for the deaths of three top regime figures killed in a bomb blast in Damascus on Wednesday – Defense Minister Daoud Rajha, Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, and a senior military officer, Gen. Hassan Turkmani.

“These martyr leaders were comrades-in-arms in the conflict with the Israeli enemy and we are confident that the Arab Syrian Army, which overcame the unbearable, will be able persist and crush the hopes of the enemies,” he said.

Set up with Iran’s assistance in the early 1980s and sponsored both by Tehran and Damascus, Hezbollah has been listed by the U.S. as a “foreign terrorist organization” ever since FTO designation was first established under 1996 legislation.

Its deadliest attacks included suicide bombings in Beirut in 1983 which killed more than 300 people, including 241 U.S. servicemen and 58 French troops.

Despite its history of violence, Hezbollah and its allies control 16 of the 30 seats in Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s cabinet.

Its existence as an armed militia violates two Security Council resolutions – resolution 1559 of 2004, which calls for “the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias,” and resolution 1701 of 2006, which requires “the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that … there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state.”

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