Hezbollah said it would fire rockets at Israel if the West attacks Syria in an attempt to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.
However, if the strikes were limited, Hezbollah would probably not retaliate, according to sources close to the group quoted in a report on Wednesday in the Lebanese Daily Star.
“In the event of a qualitative [Western military] strike that aims to change the balance of power in Syria, Hezbollah will fight on various fronts,” the senior source said.
“However, if the Western attack is limited to certain targets in Syria, then, Hezbollah will not intervene,” said the source.
Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi on Wednesday warned against foreign military action against his country, asserting that Syria would become a “graveyard of invaders,” AFP reported.
Halqi accused Western powers of creating pretexts to attack the regime in Damascus, adding that Syria would “surprise the aggressors as it surprised them in” the Yom Kippur War in 1973, when Arab states launched a surprise attack on Israel.
Crisis in Syria - full JPost.com coverage
The “colonialist threats” of foreign nations “do not terrorize us, because of the will and determination of the Syrian people, who will not accept being humiliated,” AFP quoted Halqi as saying on state television.
The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai
quoted sources close to Assad saying Syria would have nothing to lose if it were attacked, and would attack Israel. Assad has ordered the leaders of the Syrian military to prepare to respond in the form of intensive raids. Syria has its M-600 and Yakhont missiles ready, according to the report.
The sources said that unlike Iraq’s Scud missile attacks during the First Gulf War, Syria’s missiles were not more than 50 km. from the most sensitive points in Israel.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that US intervention in Syria would be “a disaster for the region,” the ISNA state news agency reported.
After supporting Arab uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 as examples of what Khamenei called an “Islamic awakening,” Tehran has steadfastly supported Assad against a two-and-a-half-year-long rebellion.
“The intervention of supraregional and foreign powers in one country will have no result other than lighting a fire and increase the hatred people have for them,” the ISNA agency quoted Khamenei as saying. “This lighting of a fire is like a spark in a gunpowder magazine whose dimensions and consequences are unknown.
“Any intervention and warmongering will certainly harm those who start this fire,” Khamenei said. “If such an action is taken, the Americans will certainly be harmed just like in their interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Meanwhile, Assad’s forces appear to have evacuated most personnel from army and security command headquarters in central Damascus, in preparation for a Western military strike, residents and opposition sources said on Wednesday.
Army units stationed near the capital have confiscated several trailer trucks, apparently to transport heavy weaponry to alternative locations, though no significant movement of military hardware has been reported, possibly due to heavy fighting near major highways, one of the sources added.
Among the buildings that have been partially evacuated are the General Staff Command Building at Umayyad Square, the nearby Air Force Command and the security compounds in the Western Kafr Souseh districts, residents of the area and a Free Syrian Army rebel source said.
Brig.-Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh, a senior military defector, said from an undisclosed location in Syria that based on Free Syrian Army intelligence, the General Staff Command had been moved to an alternative compound in the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains north of Damascus.
“Various commands are being moved to schools and underground bunkers. But I am not sure it is going to do much good for the regime,” Sheikh said.
Another resident who lives at the foothills of Qasioun, the mountain in the middle of the capital on which praetorian units are based, said the boom of artillery, usually heard daily from the 105th Battalion of the Republican Guards, fell silent on Wednesday. “They have been lots of army trucks descending from Qasioun. It seems they have evacuated the 105 Battalion headquarters,” the resident said.
Activists in eastern Damascus said barracks and housing compounds for the Republican Guards and Fourth Division near the suburbs of Somariya and Mouadamiya had been evacuated and troops and their families had gone into the city.
Abu Ayham, a commander in the Ansar al-Islam rebel brigade in Damascus, said the army’s general staff and air force intelligence had been evacuated, as well as several mixed-use barracks/housing buildings for the Republican Guards and Fourth Division on the eastern outskirts of the city.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Araqchi, rejected reports that Assad had flown to Iran, Iranian Press TV reported.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said on Tuesday that Egypt rejects military intervention in Syria, and called for a political solution, Ahram Online reported on Wednesday. Several Egyptian political parties also said they were against any military intervention.Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.