Israel has warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that any missile attack against Israel by Hizbullah would result in retaliation against Syria, the Sunday Times
reported on Sunday.
According to the UK paper, Israel’s missive – sent earlier in April – defined Hizbullah as a “division of the Syrian army,” a military branch of Damascus in Lebanon.
The warning was reportedly delivered to Damascus by a third party.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Al-Hayat
reported that Hizbullah minister Nawaf al-Moussawi had said Israel's accusations against Syria were only a ploy meant to divert attention from its failure to relaunch peace talks with the Palestinians.
Last week, the Kuwait-based Al-Rai
reported that Syria had transferred Scud missiles to Hizbullah
. According to the report, the missiles were recently transferred to Lebanon, prompting a stern Israeli warning that it would consider attacking both Syrian and Lebanese targets in response.
Scud ballistic missiles have a longer range than the rockets previously used by Hizbullah against Israel, and can carry chemical warheads.
On Thursday, the Kuwaiti paper reported that Hizbullah had confirmed
receiving a shipment of Scud missiles from Syria.
"It's only natural for Lebanon to have the means to defend itself against an Israeli attack," Hizbullah official Hussein Haj Hassan told Al-Manar TV on Friday.
The Syrian leadership has consistently denied the charge.
On Saturday, Reuters quoted US officials as saying that while the "intent" to transfer ballistic missiles to Hizbullah existed, it was doubtful such a transfer had actually taken place
Concern over flaring tensions between rival factions in Syria’s small
Mediterranean neighbor, along with the threat of a renewed civil war,
has caused Hizbullah in recent years to tone down its Iranian-aided and
Syrian-backed paramilitary activity in favor of expanding its
involvement in internal Lebanese politics.
Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.