Hizbullah: Drill shows IDF despair

Group's commander says it will "vigilantly follow" exercise; Lebanese army raises alert level.

Home Front troops 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Home Front troops 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hizbullah will "vigilantly follow" next week's IDF drill, the group's commander in south Lebanon, Nabil Kaouk, was quoted as saying Saturday. "Israel's military drill is not a testament of its strength but of its frustration and despair following its defeat in the Second Lebanon War," Israel Radio quoted Kaouk as saying. Meanwhile, Lebanese newspaper A-Safir quoted UNIFIL sources as saying that the IDF had asked the force to transmit reassuring messages of calm to Lebanon and its army ahead of the drill. A-Safir went on to say that Israel was making great efforts to clarify to Lebanon that the drill was a Home Front Command exercise and that there would not be any extraordinary maneuvers along the northern border. The reported request to UNIFIL was made after Lebanon Army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman and Hizbullah ordered a heightened state of alert in southern Lebanon. Also Saturday, Minister-without-Portfolio Ami Ayalon said Israel had no interest in attacking Syria. Ayalon said recent tensions between Israel and Syria were a result of "the September activity and the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh," referring to a September 2007 IAF strike on a Syrian installation, and the February 2008 death of Hizbullah's chief of operations, in which Israel has denied involvement. On Friday, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora himself issued an identical order amid concerns that Israel would use next week's drill to violate Lebanese sovereignty.