The interim deal signed between the P5+1 and Iran prevented a Middle East-wide war, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Tuesday, asserting that regional actors — a veiled reference to Israel — hoped to force an attack on the Islamic Republic if an agreement wasn’t reached.
“There have been both regional and international factors pushing for the option of war against Iran,” the Shiite leader said during an interview with the Lebanese network OTV.
Nasrallah claimed that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities was unlikely at this point, and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had merely waged “psychological warfare” aimed at convincing the US to carry out a strike on its own.
“I do not think that Israel will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities without a green light from the Americans,” he said.
Although US-Iranian relations have thawed, Nasrallah said, it was too early to determine whether the two countries would completely normalize ties anytime in the near future. ”The Iranians have always said that when America recognizes their rights, then Tehran will be ready for dialogue.”
Touching on the almost-three-year-old Syrian civil war, in which Hezbollah fighters have played a considerable role, Nasrallah dismissed media reports citing significant Hezbollah casualties in the fight against Syrian rebels. He said those figures were not accurate, but would not give specific figures regarding Hezbollah losses. A recent report indicated that the Lebanese Shiite militia buried 19 of its soldiers in Beirut in a span of 10 days.
Nasrallah acknowledged, however, that his forces were present in limited numbers in Damascus and Homs, and stated that at this point Syrian President Bashar Assad would not be dislodged militarily.
Nasrallah: we are present in limited #s in Damascus & Homs. In Qoseir we played lead role. In Qalamoun our involvement is limited
— Randa Slim (@rmslim) December 3, 2013
Over the past several months, Hezbollah and its patrons in Iran, have increasingly come under fire for the decision to provide military and financial support to the Assad regime. As a result, sectarian tensions in Lebanon between Sunnis, who tend to support the rebels, and Shiites, who tend to support Assad, have greatly deepened.
Last month, a double suicide bombing outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut left 23 people dead, including an Iranian diplomat and embassy guards. More than 140 others were wounded, according to the Lebanese Health Ministry.
Following the attack, Hezbollah’s deputy leader Naim Kassem said the group will not be dissuaded from supporting Assad in his country’s civil war, describing recurrent attacks on Shiite strongholds in Lebanon as “inevitable pains on the road to victory.”
Hezbollah has repeatedly defended its actions in Syria, framing the conflict as an existential fight against Sunni extremists.
The Associated Press contributed to this report