Hizbullah sources confirmed on Thursday that the group had received a shipment of Scud missiles from Syria, the Kuwaiti paper Al-Rai
But the missiles were old and unusable, according to the sources. Hizbullah also accused Israel of blowing the incident out of proportion to provoke a media ruckus.
“Our organization has many surface-to-surface missiles spread across all of Lebanon, in case Israel attacks the country again,” the Hizbullah sources said.
Despite this confirmation of what Jerusalem has been saying for days, the Syrian Foreign Ministry denied the reports, saying Israel was trying to stoke tensions in the region and could be setting the stage for an Israeli “aggression” to avoid Middle East peace requirements.
Thursday’s Syrian statement came after President Shimon Peres accused Syria of supplying the Lebanese group with Scuds for the first time.
Israeli defense officials also have said they believe Hizbullah has Scud missiles, and that the projectiles could alter the strategic balance with the Islamist group.
In an effort to prevent renewed conflict, the US State Department summoned the Syrian ambassador in Washington, Imad Mustafa, and warned him that war could break out if the weapons shipments were not stopped, Al-Rai
reported on Monday.
The IDF came very close recently to attacking a convoy carrying weapons from Syria to Lebanon, but at the last moment decided against it, according to The Wall Street Journal
The possibility that Syria would give Scud missiles to Hizbullah is not a new concern in the Israeli defense establishment.
According to Al-Rai
, Israel sent warnings to Syria
through Turkey and Qatar that it would “bomb Lebanese and Syrian
targets in case the missiles crossed the border and reached Hizbullah.”
In related news, Col. Ronen Cohen, formerly in charge of the Northern
Front in Military Intelligence and the currently chief intelligence
officer for the IDF’s Central Command, said in a research paper that an
Israeli bombing of Lebanese national infrastructure would likely unite
the Lebanese people behind Hizbullah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.