WikiLeaks: Syria gave Hizbullah Scud-D missiles

Clinton asks Arab and Western nations to help stop Syria from continuing to transfer ballistic missiles, weapons to Hizbullah.

December 7, 2010 10:22
2 minute read.
Scud D launcher

Scud D launcher. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The US lodged a complaint against Syria for providing "advanced ballistic missiles and other weaponry" to Hizbullah, shortly after Syrian President Bashar Assad denied doing so, according to documents released by WikiLeaks on Tuesday.

"We are concerned about Syria's provision of increasingly sophisticated weapons to Hizbullah," US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton wrote in a February 2010 diplomatic cable classified as "secret."

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"In our meetings last week it was stated that Syria is not transferring any 'new' missiles to Lebanese Hizbullah," Clinton wrote. Assad also said that "Syria could not be Israel's policeman."

In that meeting, the US expressed concern that Hizbullah had been given Fateh-110 missiles, which can reach Tel Aviv. A US government official told The New York Times last week that these missiles are highly accurate and especially threatening.

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"We are aware, however, of current Syrian efforts to supply Hizbullah with ballistic missiles," Clinton explained. These missiles include Scud-D missiles, based on North Korean technology. "I must stress that...we strongly caution [Syria] against such a serious escalation."

Leaked cables from 2009 also reveal that North Korea has provided missile technology to Iran and Syria and supported Hamas and Hizbullah, using Chinese banks "as the main access point into the international financial system."

Clinton also wrote in to Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad in February that she is "concerned that Hizbullah is still planning an operation to avenge the death of Imad Mughniyeh," but added that, although Hizbullah seeks "a renewal of the 2006 conflict, it does not seem to be in Syria's interest" to do so.

Clinton warned that "Iran and Hizbullah both have interests that are not in Syria's own strategic interest," adding that Syria's "operational support for Hizbullah is a strategic miscalculation."

On the following day, the Secretary of State told diplomats to raise the issue of Syria's weapons transfers in Arab capitals, specifically Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar. She also discussed her concerns with Britain, France and Turkey, all of which "pledged to raise their concern with Syrian officials."

Clinton explained that "the Syrian leadership views military support to Hizbullah as integral to Syria's security and as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with Israel over the return of the Golan Heights, as well as a possible stick to bring the Israelis back to the table."

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