Hezbollah defies Israel, says has ‘precision missiles’

Hassan Nasrallah says his group may reduce the number of its fighters in Syria because of an easing of the conflict, particularly after a recent Russian-Turkey agreement that prevented an offensive on the last rebel stronghold. (AP)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Hezbollah defies Israel, says has ‘precision missiles’

  • Hezbollah is boasting it possesses ‘highly accurate’ missiles despite Israeli attempts to prevent it from acquiring such weapons
  • Israel worries Hezbollah has been improving its capabilities and increased its strikes in Syria to prevent weapons shipments to the group

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Hezbollah said Thursday it had acquired “precision missiles” despite extensive efforts by neighbor and foe Israel to prevent the movement developing this capability.
“It has been done. The resistance now owns precision missiles” as part of its weaponry, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address during the key Shiite commemoration of Ashura.
Israel this month acknowledged carrying out more than 200 strikes over the past 18 months in war-torn Syria, where Hezbollah fights alongside Iran in support of the Damascus regime.
Israel has said it is working to stop both Iran and Hezbollah from acquiring sophisticated arms.
“Attempts in Syria to block the way toward this (missile) capability” have failed, Nasrallah said.
“If Israel imposes a war on Lebanon, it will face a fate that it never would have expected.”
Israel has fought several conflicts against Hezbollah, the last in 2006.
The Israeli military believes Hezbollah has between 100,000 and 120,000 short-range missiles and rockets, as well as several hundred longer-range missiles.
Late Monday, an Israeli raid hit Syria’s coastal province of Latakia to prevent what the Jewish state said were deliveries of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah.
The same evening Syrian air defenses downed a Russian military plane by mistake, killing all 15 on board.
Russia also backs Syria’s government militarily and it was the worst case of friendly fire between the two allies since Moscow intervened in the conflict in 2015.
On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was “determined to stop Iranian military entrenchment in Syria, and the attempts by Iran, which calls for the destruction of Israel, to transfer to Hezbollah lethal weaponry (to be used) against Israel.”
Nasrallah accused the Israelis of trying to kill him “day and night.” He has lived in a secret location for decades and rarely appears in public.
The Hezbollah chief also reiterated his support for Iran, after the United States withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal in May.
Washington reimposed sanctions on Tehran last month, and a new round of even harsher sanctions targeting Iran’s vital oil sector is set to go into effect in early November.
“It is our duty today to stand by Iran, who in a few weeks’ time will face a dangerous deadline — the start of American sanctions,” he said.
Nasrallah accused the United States of “going to all the world’s capitals in a bid to besiege” Iran, as Washington seeks support for its measures against the country.


US-backed SDF denies report of final Daesh defeat

Updated 6 min ago
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US-backed SDF denies report of final Daesh defeat

  • The SDF has denied the claims made by Syrian Kurdish news outlet Hawar

DEIR AL-ZOR, Syria: The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) denied a report on Thursday that all of Daesh’s final enclave has been captured after a Kurdish media outlet said the militant group had been finally defeated there.
“Combing continues in the Baghouz camp and there is no truth (to the report) about the complete liberation of the village,” an SDF media official said, quoting the commanders of the offensive.
Earlier, Hawar News reported the SDF had “liberated all of Baghouz from the Daesh mercenaries” and with that the campaign had “ended with the defeat of Daesh and the victory of the SDF,” quoting its correspondents.
Daesh’s final defeat at Baghouz will end its territorial rule that once spanned a third of Iraq and Syria.
The SDF on Tuesday captured an encampment where the militants had been mounting a last defense of the tiny enclave, pushing diehard fighters onto a sliver of land at the Euphrates riverside.
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that a “tiny spot” of remaining Daesh territory would be “gone by tonight.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, whose country has participated in the campaign, said on Wednesday he expected the announcement of the “final territorial defeat” to be made in the “next few days.”