Middle East

Syria to equip Hezbollah with game-changing arms: Nasrallah

FILE - In this April 1996 file photo, two Hezbollah fighters stand near Katyusha rockets in the southern village of Ein Qana, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari, file)

BEIRUT: Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said Thursday Syria would supply Hezbollah with game-changing weapons in response to recent Israeli air raids near Damascus and that his party stands ready to assist resistance groups seeking to liberate the occupied Golan Heights.

“The Syrian response to Israel’s air strikes was to tell Israel that if your goal is to prevent boosting the capabilities of the resistance then take note ... [Syria] will give [Hezbollah] arms,” he said.

“And [Syria] will provide [Hezbollah] with sophisticated weapons that the resistance has never obtained before,” he added.

He spoke during a televised speech commemorating the 25th anniversary of Hezbollah’s An-Nour radio station.

Nasrallah said his group was ready to use such strategic weapons in its fight against the Jewish state.

“The Lebanese resistance announces that it is ready to receive any sophisticated arms even if it is a game changer and we are ready to obtain and safeguard such weaponry and use it to defend our people and country,” he added.

Last week, Israel carried out air raids on targets in Syria, bringing the total number of strikes by the Jewish state in Syria this year to three.

Western media, quoting Israeli sources, said the Israeli warplanes targeted Iranian-made missiles headed for Hezbollah. Damascus said a Syrian military research center was the target.

Israel has repeatedly warned that it will prevent Hezbollah from obtaining game-changing arms, voicing its concern that Syria’s stockpile of sophisticated weaponry could fall in the hands of its enemies.

Nasrallah denied media reports that 300 Syrian soldiers were killed in the attacks on the military facility, saying “according to my information only three or four martyrs from the Syrian military were killed.”

He said the Jewish state had sought to achieve two objectives through its air strikes: neutralize Syria in terms of the Israeli-Arab conflict and prevent the Lebanese resistance group from building up its arsenal.

Nasrallah, who hinted last week President Bashar Assad’s allies Iran and Russia would intervene militarily to prevent the fall of the embattled Syrian leader, also said Syria’s response to the Israeli assault was to activate its front with Israel – the occupied Golan Heights.

“The second response [by Damascus] is that it opened the Golan front and by that it transformed the threat [against it] into an opportunity,” he said. “So whoever wanted a war on Syria, the response was to open the Golan front for any popular resistance groups,” he added.

"The third response is to prepare rocket launchers and give orders to implement without referring to the leadership and that frightened Israel which began sending messages [to Syria] of calm," he said.

Nasrallah also vowed to assist, back and support resistance groups seeking to liberate the occupied Golan Heights.

“Just as Syria stood in support of the resistance to defend and liberate the south [of Lebanon], we announce that we are with the Syrian popular resistance groups to cooperate, coordinate and liberate the occupied Syrian Golan,” he said.

Such a response to Israel, Nasrallah said, pointed out Assad’s careful approach to dealing with the crisis.

“Everything that is happening today indicates that Syria has a strong leadership that is managing the battles with the enemy in a wise, calm and courageous manner which will achieve victory in the future, God willing,” Nasrallah said.

While he reiterated that the only solution to the crisis in Syria was through a compromise between the regime and the opposition, Nasrallah slammed Arab countries for not acting to end the bloody conflict.

“It is shameful that the U.S. be the one seeking Syria's interests while the Arabs appear as if they're the ones destroying Syria which is something that falls in the interests of the enemy,” he said.

Turning to domestic issues, including the process of forming a new Cabinet and the drafting of a new electoral law for the upcoming elections, Nasrallah reiterated his party’s demand that the next Cabinet be made up of political parties according to their clout in Parliament.

"Given the domestic and regional circumstances, as well as the recent Israeli strikes on Syria and its continuous daily aggression on Lebanon, in addition to regional tensions, there should be a government of true national partnership,” he said.

“We didn’t ask for a government that represents the actual clout of parties [in terms of popular support] but their [representation] at the parliament level and this government will administer not only the elections but will have other responsibilities even if it lasts for one week,” Nasrallah added.

He also called for a swift formation of the new government.

Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam has said he wants a government whose ministers are not running in the upcoming elections. The primary task of the new government, according to Salam, should be to administer the general elections with the needed transparency.

The March 14 coalition, particularly the Future Movement, has supported Salam’s Cabinet vision and has asked the Beirut lawmaker to rotate the ministerial portfolios between the various political parties.

Nasrallah also reiterated that his party’s lawmakers would vote in favor of the controversial Orthodox Gathering electoral law if it is put up for a vote during Parliament’s May 15 session.

“Hezbollah will vote on the Orthodox Gathering law because we have already given our word on that and we were clear,” he said.

"But our group has not yet reached an agreement on an alternative law but we are ready to negotiate based on the outcomes of the May 15 talks,” he said, referring to the legislative session called for by Speaker Nabih Berri to discuss and approve a new electoral law.





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