Lebanese leader blames Iran for Hezbollah UAV

Sleiman: Tehran at fault for drone downed over Israel; Hezbollah threatens rocket fire on Israel "from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat."

Michel Sleiman 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Andres Stapff)
Michel Sleiman 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Andres Stapff)
Lebanese President Michel Sleiman has sent a letter of protest to his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, complaining about the recent Hezbollah drone launch into Israeli airspace, the Lebanese daily Al Mustaqbal reported on Sunday.
The report cited a high-level official who accompanied Sleiman on his visit to Rome over the weekend as saying that the president wrote to Ahmadinejad via Iran’s Energy Minister Majid Namjoo during his recent visit to Lebanon.
Sleiman slammed Iran for failing to inform the Lebanese government about the drone operation, and said Tehran had disregarded all diplomatic norms in its dealings with Lebanon.
“This step is an utter disregard of the feelings of the Lebanese and their commitment to national sovereignty,” Al Mustaqbal cited Sleiman as writing in his letter to Ahmadinejad. Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah said it launched the Iranian-made drone, dubbed the “Ayoub,” which Israel downed on October 6.
Iran’s state-controlled media and news sites linked to the IRGC have reported extensively on the drone, claiming it had obtained images of top-secret Israeli sites.
However, a senior Israeli military official later said he did not believe the drone possessed a camera. “To the best of our knowledge, no,” the official told Reuters.
The report of Sleiman’s letter came after a visit by Iran’s powerful Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani to Beirut on Saturday, following a short visit to Damascus.
During his Beirut visit, Larijani leveled criticism at some Arab countries for sending arms to Syrian rebels fighting against Tehran’s ally, Bashar Assad.
“Sides sending arms to fuel internal fighting in Syria aim at dealing a blow to defiance and resistance against Israel,” Larijani said. Alluding to Hezbollah, Iran’s parliament speaker also lauded Lebanon’s “resistance” against Israel, saying that it and Hamas were “strategic forces.”
Al Mustaqbal cited the same official source as saying that Sleiman was angered by Larijani’s criticisms, saying that they went against the Baabda Declaration, the resolution adopted by Lebanon’s national dialogue committee in June which aims to distance Lebanon from regional conflicts.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened on Sunday to fire “thousands of rockets” at Israeli cities if Lebanon was attacked.
The Iranian-backed terror group would be “able to target the entire occupied territories, from the Lebanese border to Jordan to the Red Sea, from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat,” Nasrallah said, according to Lebanon’s As-Safir newspaper.
In a speech in southern Beirut to mark the Shi’ite festival of Ashura, Nasrallah urged Arab and Islamic governments to arm “resistance factions” in Gaza.
Nasrallah vowed to bomb Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities with thousands of rockets in any future war.
“If Israel is shaken and confused by a small number of Fajr-5 rockets, less than 10 in eight days, how will it cope with thousands of rockets that will hit Tel Aviv if Lebanon is attacked?” he said.
Echoing remarks made last week by Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Nasrallah urged Arab and Islamic governments to send military aid to Gaza.
“Gaza and Palestine don’t only need your sympathy and visits, but they also need your weapons and money,” Nasrallah said, according to As-Safir.