Israel Helping Daesh, Nasrallah Says
Jack Khoury, Haaretz, Mar 19 2017
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday accused Israel of helping Daesh in Syria by carrying out airstrikes in the country. He claimed that Israel is afraid of a Daesh defeat because it would mean victory for Hezbollah. Nasrallah made the remarks a day after the IAF struck targets in Syria. In response, Syria fired a number of missiles toward Israeli jets. It was the most serious clash between the two countries since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war six years ago and the first time Israel took responsibility for an attack in Syria. Speaking on Muslim Women’s Day, Nasrallah said that Israel finds pretenses to intervene in Syria to help Daesh and other terrorist groups in the country. He said:
Israel always finds an excuse to intervene, whether it’s striking weapons meant for Hezbollah, like they claimed yesterday, or mortar shells hitting the occupied Syrian Golan. Netanyahu crawled up to Putin, he begged the Russian president because he’s afraid of a Daesh defeat. He knows that a Daewsh defeat means victory for the resistance axis and Hezbollah, and a loss for Israel which supported them over the past six years.
Nasrallah didn’t confirm whether Friday’s strike hit a Hezbollah weapons convoy. Netanyahu said Friday that Israel will continue act to make sure that advanced arms from Syria won’t make it to Lebanon. Nasrallah said that Daesh would be defeated in Iraq within a couple of weeks and said it had no future in Syria. Nasrallah noted that the fighting in Syria is heading towards a conclusion and victory for the regime. He blamed Arab nations for spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the war in Syria, saying the money would have been better spent aiding the Palestinians and rebuilding the Gaza Strip, or helping Somalia and Yemen:
They poured money and ammunition to topple the regime in Syria and remove us from the axis of resistance.
Iran also condemned Israel’s attack in Syria, with its Foreign Ministry saying it was proof that Israel’s interests coincide with those of the “terrorists” in Syria, a term usually used to mean Daesh and anti-regime Islamists in Syria.
Hezbollah says Israel fears Daesh defeat
Times of Israel, Mar 18 2017
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday criticized Israel’s airstrike in Syria early Friday morning, saying the Jewish state uses “all kinds of excuses” to justify its military operations. The Lebanese Shiite leader was referring to the airstrike which Jerusalem said targeted a weapons convoy destined for Hezbollah. Syrian military forces fired missiles at the Israeli jets that carried out the strikes. One was reportedly intercepted by an Israeli Arrow missile battery. Nasrallah said Netanyahu “went to marry Putin” during his recent trip to Moscow out of fear that Daesh would be defeated. Netanyahu and Putin met in Moscow on Mar 9, where they discussed the situation in Syria. Nasrallah asked:
If Daesh loses, what will you do with Iran in Syria?
He called on Syrian rebel groups to stop fighting because “it serves USrael.” Netanyahu said Friday that Israel would continue to target weapon convoys, stating in a Hebrew language video released to the press:
Our policy is very consistent. When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah, when we have the intel and the operational capability, we act to prevent it. That’s how we’ve acted and how we will continue to act … and everyone needs to take this into account. Everyone.
Meanwhile in Israel, two MKs responded to Russia’s summoning of Israel’s ambassador over the airstrike in Syria. Former general and Zionist Union MK Eyal Ben-Reuven said Russia’s reaction was a major shift in Moscow’s Syria policy, Army Radio reported. Ben-Reuven said:
The Russians clarified in the past that they will leave Israel to deal with the problem of Hezbollah, but summoning the ambassador to Moscow for a reprimand at the Foreign Ministry expresses a change in the Russian position.
Russia summoned the Israeli Ambassador to Moscow, demanding clarifications. Zionist Union MK Omer Bar Lev said:
Israel’s cooperation with Russia is important, but the minute their interest becomes different from ours, there won’t be any cooperation. As of today their interests are with Assad and Iran.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry earlier sent two letters to the UN Sec-Gen and the UNSC president, calling the strikes a violation of international law, of UN resolutions and of Syrian sovereignty. Syria called on the UN to “condemn the blatant Israeli aggression that is considered a violation of international law.” The Israeli military said its aircraft struck several targets in Syria and were back in Israeli-controlled airspace when several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria toward the jets. One incoming missile was shot down by an Arrow defense battery, while two more landed in Israel, causing neither injury nor damage. The Syrian statement said:
The attacks were conducted to support terrorist gangs and in a desperate attempt to raise their deteriorating morale and divert attention away from the victories which Syrian Arab Army is making in the face of the terrorist organizations.
It also claimed it had shot down an Israeli warplane and hit a second one, assertions Israel said were false. The firing of missiles from Syria toward Israeli aircraft is extremely rare, though Israeli military officials reported a shoulder-fired missile a few months ago. Jordan, which borders both Israel and Syria, said parts of the missiles fell in its rural northern areas, including the Irbid district. The Jordanian military said the debris came from the Israeli interception of missiles fired from Syria. Radwan Otoum, the Irbid governor, told the state news agency Petra that the missile parts caused only minor damage. Israel has carried out airstrikes on advanced weapons systems in Syria including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles as well as Hezbollah positions, but it rarely confirms such operations.