Hezbollah deputy says Israel won’t be allowed to set the ‘rules of the conflict’
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Hezbollah deputy says Israel won’t be allowed to set the ‘rules of the conflict’

Naim Qasem predicts Iranian response to last week's attack on base in Syria in which 7 Iranians were killed

Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem in an interview with Lebanese Al Mayadeen TV on April 16, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)
Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem in an interview with Lebanese Al Mayadeen TV on April 16, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)

The deputy leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group said Monday that Iran will retaliate for a strike against one of its military bases in Syria reportedly carried out by Israel.

Naim Qassem said in an interview with Lebanese television station Al Mayadeen that he expects an Iranian response against Israel, but does not know what form it will take.

“By bombing the T-4 army base, Israel wanted to create an equation that shows that it controls the rules of conflict, and this is not acceptable to us,” he said. “We expect an Iranian response against Israel, but we do not know its nature, or details.”

He added that the bombing of a specific target showed that Israel was not ready for a comprehensive war.

“Israel is not ready for an all-out war, and therefore it is waging a campaign between the wars. “The axis of resistance,” he said, referring to Syria, Iran and Hezbollah, “will not allow [Israel] to restrict its movement in Syria, just as Hezbollah does not accept Russia limiting its movement in Syria.”

A photo released by Iranian media reportedly shows the T-4 air base in central Syria after a missile barrage attributed to Israel on April 9, 2018. (Iranian media)

Israel has refused to officially comment on the attack last Monday, on the Tiyas air base — also known as the T-4 air base — outside Palmyra in central Syria, for which it has been blamed by Iran, Russia, and Syria. Two US officials were also quoted as saying that Israel had carried out the strike, adding that Washington was informed in advance.

Underlining the current acute sensitivity of the high stakes face-off with Iran, the Israeli army on Monday sought to dissociate itself from an unnamed IDF source who acknowledged to The New York Times that Israel carried out the raid, in which at least seven Iranians were killed.

Tehran has threatened to deliver a response to the alleged Israeli strike, saying it would come “at the right time” and that Israel would “regret” what it had done.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi briefs journalists at a press conference in Tehran on August 22, 2016. (screen capture: YouTube)

“The Zionist entity will sooner or later receive the necessary response and will regret its misdeeds,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told reporters in a weekly meeting Monday.

The tensions with Iran also come against a backdrop of heightened tensions between Syria, backed by Iran and Russia on the one side and the United States and its European allies on the other.

On Saturday, US, French and British missiles destroyed sites suspected of hosting chemical weapons development and storage facilities, in a move lauded by US President Donald Trump as “perfectly executed.” It came in response to a suspected toxic gas assault by in the Syrian town of Douma by President Bashar Assad’s forces.

It was the biggest international attack on Assad’s regime since the start of Syria’s seven-year war.

Qassem said that the United States gave details of the timing and targets of the US-led missile strike to Russia beforehand, which he saw as a sign that it did not want all-out war. He said that the military action had limited effect, with only three wounded. “The raids were on targets already bombed before.”

Qassem also told the news site that Hezbollah backs the Palestinians and the so-called March of Return protests being staged on the Gaza-Israel border.

Hezbollah works “to support the Palestinian resistance militarily and financially,” he said.

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