Hezbollah will use Syria as a base to launch retaliatory attacks against Israel, hoping to leave its home territory in Lebanon unscathed should a US strike against the Damascus regime go ahead, Lebanese media reported Monday.
A source in the joint operations organization formed between the Syrian Army and Hezbollah said the group is seeking to keep Lebanon out of any “military initiative” it may take, according to the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper and cited by the Naharnet website on Monday.
“Hezbollah is controlling 8,000 kilometers [around] Homs and will not hesitate to participate in an attack by firing surface-to-surface missiles from Syria,” the source said. “The party will not use its tactical and strategical rocket launchers inside Lebanon.”
However, should Israel attack Lebanon, then Hezbollah will use its rocket launchers deployed in Lebanon to respond, the source warned.
Hezbollah forces have been fighting in support of President Bashar Assad inside Syria for several months, bolstering the regular Syrian Army’s capabilities.
The threat of US military action comes in response to reports that the Syrian regime launched a chemical attack against its own people last month, killing hundreds.
The United States, Russia and other countries have sent military forces to the region to increase their readiness in preparation for conflict. Last month Hezbollah reportedly mobilized its forces in southern Lebanon.
On August 23, Israeli planes struck a Palestinian group in Lebanon after four rockets were fired at Israel. Beirut promised to crack down on Palestinian terror groups and on Saturday two men were arrested in connection with the attack.
Israel and Hezbollah last fought directly in 2006, after Hezbollah kidnapped two IDF soldiers patrolling the northern border, leading to the Second Lebanon War.
Hezbollah is understood to have several thousand rockets trained at Israel at all times. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said last month that the missiles were largely provided by the Syrian government.
Last week the IDF deployed several additional Iron Dome missile defense batteries in the Dan region around Tel Aviv and in the north, as part of the army’s continuing preparations for the possibility of conflict with Syria.
The deployment was accompanied by the stationing of longer-range Patriot anti-missile batteries in the north and center of the country. The air force has also raised the readiness level of its Arrow 2 batteries, which are tasked with intercepting long-range missiles from deep inside Syria or Iran.
Even as preparations for possible war continue, Israeli officials have stressed that any escalation in Syria is unlikely to involve Israel.