Hezbollah's Nasrallah: Israel's Actions in Syria Not Reason for Withdrawing Forces

Israel defense sources claimed over the weekend that Iran had begun withdrawing its forces from Syria and down-scaling support for Hezbollah as result of Israeli strikes

Jack Khoury
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Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters through a screen in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon February 16, 2020.
Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters through a screen in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon February 16, 2020.Credit: REUTERS/Aziz Taher
Jack Khoury

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday that Israel has been attacking any target connected to missile manufacturing in Syria, but that Iranian and Hezbollah forces in that country were not being influenced by Israel’s actions there.

“Syria’s allies started to evacuate bases and positions two years ago, without any connection to Israeli attacks,” Nasrallah said, in a speech broadcast on the Al Manar television station.

“Hezbollah forces and Iranian strategic advisers will remain in Syria in accordance with Syria’s interests, and Israeli attacks won’t change this,” he added.

Over the weekend Haaretz reported, quoting a senior defense source who had briefed journalists, that in recent months Israel has significantly increased the scope of its attacks in Syria, and that there were signs that following these attacks – many of which were aimed at Revolutionary Guards locations – Iran had begun withdrawing its forces from Syria.

Nasrallah addressed the statements by senior Israeli officials about the Israeli army's achievements in Syria, saying, “The Israeli public has to understand that its leadership is lying and selling it illusions.”

While damage has been done to Syria and Iran by the Israeli attacks, the forces don’t act in accordance with what Israeli wants, he claimed.

“Every evacuation or reduction in presence take place in coordination with the Syrian army and constitutes the result of a victory, and not as Israel claims,” he said.

“We have no reason to be in areas where the campaign has been won, which is why we are evacuating forces and returning them to their bases in Lebanon, including southern Lebanon. […] Hezbollah and Iran have sacrificed thousands since 2011 and never exited Syrian territory based on Israeli desire.”

Meanwhile, Fox News reported Wednesday that Iran is expanding its Imam Ali military base on the Syrian-Iraqi border with the intent of storing advanced weapons systems there.

In its report, the network showed satellite photos from Tuesday and from the beginning of April, in which one can see work on a new tunnel at the site, whose width is estimated at 15 meters.

According to the report, an analysis by Israeli intelligence firm ImageSat International indicates that the tunnel is meant to accommodate vehicles that carry advanced weapons systems.

Last Monday, it was reported in Syria that Israel had attacked the Aleppo district in the north.  According to reports in Arab media, the site that was bombed belongs to CERS, the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, a leading military industry in Syria responsible for developing weapons, including chemical and biological weapons.

Western intelligence sources describe CERS as a central element in the Iranian effort to arm Hezbollah, focusing on improving the accuracy of the rockets in Hezbollah’s possession.

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