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

Egyptian 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.”

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