Hezbollah can still deter Israel, terror chief warns

On 14th anniversary of IDF’s Lebanon pullout, Nasrallah says Jerusalem worried by his group’s successes fighting Syrian rebels

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (AP/Hussein Malla)
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (AP/Hussein Malla)

BEIRUT — Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Sunday that Syria’s regime and the “resistance axis” including his Lebanese Shiite militant group would triumph in the Syrian conflict, and that his terror group was still well equipped to fight Israel..

In a televised address to mark the 14th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon, Nasrallah said Hezbollah is still able to deter its arch-enemy Israel.

“Despite the developments and events that are taking place in our region, especially in Syria, the resistance [Hezbollah] still has the capacity to deter Israel,” he said.

“This is one of the Israeli enemy’s concerns. It looks at Syria and Iran [key Assad and Hezbollah backer]… and sees that they are giving all the help they can to the resistance,” he said, suggesting Hezbollah is still receiving military and financial support from its allies.

Nasrallah also warned that Hezbollah will respond if Israel carries out any attacks in the border region.

“Should we reach the point where the resistance must respond, the resistance will not be silent,” he said.

Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters into Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against rebels, saying they are defending an “axis of resistance” against Israel and the West.

“Syria will triumph and the resistance axis will triumph,” Nasrallah said

Nasrallah’s speech came two weeks ahead of a presidential vote in Syria that is widely expected to return Assad to power.

“Syria is advancing towards a presidential election that no amount of foreign intimidation or mockery by those who call themselves the ‘Friends of Syria’ can block or stop,” he said.

The exiled opposition and its Western backers, who have held several international meetings under a ‘Friends of Syria’ umbrella, have ridiculed the June 3 vote as a “farce”.

Syria’s civil war raging since March 2011 has killed more than 160,000 people and forced nearly half the population to flee their homes.

More than a million Syrians have taken refuge in neighbouring Lebanon, which has been sharply divided into pro- and anti-Assad camps.

The war has also spilled across the border into Lebanon.

Syria dominated Lebanon for 30 years until 2005, but continues to exert influence over the tiny Mediterranean country through its allies.

His televised speech was followed by a massive crowd that gathered in the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil.

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