BEIRUT / TEHRAN
Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah admits for the first time his movement receives financial and military backing from Iran while saying Tehran won’t ask Hezbollah to retaliate if Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities
Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaks to his supporters through a screen during a rally to celebrate the birthday anniversary of Prophet Mohammed. REUTERS photo
Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Feb. 7 acknowledged for the first time that his party was solely funded and equipped by Iran
and said Iran
will not ask Hezbollah to retaliate if Israel
attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Nasrallah told thousands of supporters by video link that in case of such an Israeli attack on Iran, his leadership would make a decision about a response. “There is speculation about what would happen if Israel
bombed Iran’s nuclear facilities,” the Associated Press quoted Nasrallah as saying.
“I tell you that the Iranian leadership will not ask Hezbollah to do anything. On that day, we will sit, think and decide what we will do.” The Iran-backed group has been in conflict with Israel
since 1982, when Israel
invaded Lebanon. In 2006, Hezbollah and Israel
fought a 34-day war that killed about 1,200 people in Lebanon and 160 in Israel. Nasrallah also denied U.S. charges that his group was involved in drug smuggling and money laundering.
Beside his words on a possible Israel
or United States attack on Iran, Nasrallah for the first time acknowledged that his party was solely funded and equipped by Iran. “We have been receiving since 1982 all kinds of moral, political and material backing from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Nasrallah said. His statement marked the first time he has openly admitted the source of the military and financial backing for his party. “In the past we alluded partially to this truth,” Nasrallah said, Agence France-Presse reported. “We used to speak of a moral and political support while keeping silent when questioned about our military backing so as not to embarrass Iran. “But today ... we have decided to speak out.”Iran’s retaliatory statements
As international pressure mounts on Iran, top officials of the Tehran regime continue to make retaliatory statements. The Iranian ambassador to Moscow said Iran
was capable of hitting U.S. military forces anywhere in the world if attacked by the United States, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported. “The Americans know very well what Iran
is like and what our potential is,” Seyyed Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi said.
“Iran is in a very good position to deliver retaliatory strikes on America
around the world ... An attack on Iran
would be suicidal for them.” Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Massoud Jazayeri also rejected the possibility of an Israeli and U.S. military attack against Iran, saying the U.S. and Israel
were in no position to launch a military strike against Iran
due to their particular vulnerability to Tehran’s counterattacks.