(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
last week's uncertainty surrounding a reported Syrian Scud missile
delivery to Hizbullah, a senior US senator said Tuesday that the
guerrilla group most likely obtained the weapons and that its missiles
posed a real danger to Israel.
"I believe there is a
likelihood that there are Scuds that Hizbullah has in Lebanon. A high
likelihood," Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, a
Democrat from California, told AFP."The rockets and missiles in Lebanon
are substantially increased and better technologically than they were
and this is a real point of danger for Israel."
Feinstein stressed that the tensions in the North would only subside
with a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
only one thing that's going to solve it, and that's a two-state
solution," she said.
Hizbullah sources confirmed last week that
the group had received a shipment of Scud missiles from Syria, but
Damascus denied the reports, saying Israel was trying to stoke tensions
in the region.
Related: Lebanese PM says Scuds accusations like Iraq's WMD
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On Monday, the State Department summoned the senior Syrian diplomat in Washington to accuse his government of "provocative behavior" in supplying the arms.
A department statement announcing the complaint was imprecise about the alleged arms deals by the Syrians. It alluded to the transfer to Hizbullah of Scud ballistic missiles but did not say explicitly that Syria was behind such a deal.
The State Department said deputy chief of mission Zouheir Jabbour was called in to "review Syria's provocative behavior concerning the potential transfer of arms to Hizbullah." It went on to say that providing Hizbullah with Scud missiles risked escalating tensions in the volatile region.
"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the transfer of any arms, and especially ballistic missile systems such as the Scud, from Syria to Hizbullah," the statement said. "The transfer of these arms can only have a destabilizing effect on the region and would pose an immediate threat to both the security of Israel and the sovereignty of Lebanon."
Gordon Duguid, a State Department spokesman in whose name the statement was issued, said in a telephone interview that the department was not confirming that a Scud transfer to Hizbullah had taken place. He said the meeting with the Syrian diplomat was conducted to seek answers about Syrian arms deals and to reiterate US concerns.
Last week White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that US concern about reports of Syrian Scud missile transfers to Hizbullah had been raised at the highest levels of the Syrian government.
On April 1, during a visit to Damascus, Democratic Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reiterated US misgivings about the flow of weapons through Syria to Hizbullah and told reporters the US view is that this is "something that must stop" for there to be peace.
The State Department statement linked the issue of Syrian arms provisions for Hizbullah to the broader Middle East conflict.
"The risk of miscalculation that could result from this type of escalation should make Syria reverse the ill-conceived policy it has pursued in providing arms to Hizbullah," it said. "Additionally, the heightened tension and increased potential for conflict this policy produces is an impediment to ongoing efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East."