US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday night warned of Hizbullah's alarming military capabilities, and appeared to give an official Washington confirmation that Syria had indeed provided the guerrilla group with Scud missiles.
“Syria and Iran are providing Hizbullah with rockets and missiles of ever-increasing capabilities,” he said. “Hizbullah has far more rockets and missiles than most governments in the world.”
Gates’ comments came after a meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak
at the Pentagon, during which Iran and the rearming of Hizbullah were major topics.
Reports of the alleged Scud transfer surfaced in Kuwait’s Al-Rai
newspaper earlier this month. Israel subsequently issued a stern warning that it would consider attacking both Syrian and Lebanese targets in response to a Scud attack on its territory.
Egypt then warned of a new escalation between Israel and Lebanon and
sent a letter Tuesday to US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in
an effort to “defuse tensions” between the two countries
President Hosni Mubarak reassured
his Lebanese counterpart
, Sa’ad Hariri, on Tuesday that Israel does
not plan to attack his country.
Also on Tuesday, Israeli
Ambassador to the US Michael Oren told CNN that although "the fact of
the matter is the Syrians have been providing missiles to Hizbullah in
Lebanon, Israel has “no intention of attacking Lebanon, Syria or anybody
else in the Middle East.”