The head of the Hezbollah terror group warned Friday that Israel would be drawn into any war between the US and Iran and could be “wiped out” in such a conflict.
“Iran is able to bombard Israel with ferocity and force,” Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview broadcast on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television.
“When the Americans understand that this war could wipe out Israel, they will reconsider,” Nasrallah said.
His comments came amid soaring tensions between the US and Iran and just hours after US House of Representatives voted to restrict US President Donald Trump’s ability to attack Iran, voicing fear that his hawkish policies are pushing toward a needless war.
It was not immediately clear if Nasrallah was referring to Iran’s arsenal of long-range missiles or the tens of thousands of rockets and missiles that Iran has supplied the Lebanese Hezbollah.
Earlier in the interview Nasrallah said his Iran-backed group had significantly improved its military capabilities since the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.
“Our weapons have been developed in both quality and quantity, we have precision missiles and drones,” he said in the interview to mark 13 years since the war.
During the interview, a chuckling Nasrallah referred to a map of Israel and pointed to strategic military and civilian targets which he said Hezbollah could hit, including Ben Gurion Airport, arms depots, petrochemical and water desalinization plants, and the Ashdod port.
He claimed that an attack on Haifa’s ammonia storage tanks — which have been emptied out — would cause tens of thousands of casualties. He also specified that his missiles could hit the southern Israeli city of Eilat on the Red Sea. The question would be “which of us would send the other back to the Stone Age,” he declared.
Nasrallah hinted his organization had acquired anti-aircraft missiles, saying he preferred to keep an ambiguous stance, adding that the Lebanese terror group now had “game-changing offensive capabilities and weapons.”
Israel has long warned that Hezbollah plans to try and invade northern Israel in any future war and recently uncovered several attack tunnels built deep into Israel that were supposed to allow their fighters to enter into Israel.
However, Nasrallah said he was confident there would not be a war, because Israel feared the consequences.
He also said regional players were working to prevent a war between the US and Iran. “Our collective responsibility in the region is to work towards preventing an American war on Iran,” he said.
He said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had no interest in a conflict erupting.
In recent weeks the US has sent thousands of troops, an aircraft carrier, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and advanced fighter jets to the Middle East, and fears are growing of a wider conflict after mysterious oil tanker attacks near the Strait of Hormuz blamed on Iran, attacks by Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen on Saudi Arabia and Iran’s downing of the US military drone.
Iran has recently begun surpassing uranium enrichment limits set in its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in response to Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the accord a year ago.
The US has also re-imposed tough sanctions on Tehran’s oil exports, exacerbating an economic crisis that has sent its currency plummeting.
Nasrallah also said that the group had recently begun withdrawing it’s fighters that were supporting the Damascus regime in neighboring war-torn Syria.
“We are present in every area that we used to be. We are still there, but we don’t need to be there in large numbers as long as there is no practical need,” he said.
The head of the Iran-backed Shiite movement, which has been fighting in Syria since 2013, did no quantify the extent of the reduction.
Backed by Russia and Iran, the Damascus government has taken back large swathes of territory from rebels and jihadists since 2015, and now controls around 60 percent of the country.
Nasrallah said none of his fighters were currently involved in fighting in Syria’s northwestern region of Idlib, where regime and Russian forces have increased deadly bombardment on a jihadist-run bastion since late April.
He spoke after Washington announced fresh sanctions Tuesday against Hezbollah, targeting elected officials from the movement for the first time.
“All dealings with the Syria file has nothing to do with the sanctions or the financial austerity,” he said.
Hezbollah is considered to be a terrorist organisation by the United States, and is the only faction not to have disarmed after the Lebanese 1975-1990 civil war.
But it is also a major political player in the small Mediterranean country, taking 13 seats in parliament last year and securing three posts in the current cabinet.