Saturday, 13 October 2012

Nasrallah says drone is Hezbollah's, reports on engagement in Syria false

One of the coffee shops in Beirut's southern suburbs during Nasrallah's night-time speech. (Photo: Al-Akhbar - Marwan Tahtah)
Published Friday, October 12, 2012
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah revealed Thursday that it was his party that launched a mysterious drone that floated to the depths of Palestine last week.

The revelation has caused the resistance movement to soar to new heights, with the Israeli armed forces sluggish response to the drone indicating that the existence of Hezbollah's air power had caught it unawares.

The reconnaissance mission “was not the first, nor was it the last”, taking off from the Lebanon-Palestine borders, and flying over some top-security zones, such as the Dimona nuclear reactor, some 55 km away from the drone's starting point.

The drone, dubbed Ayoub, was shot down after it passed over Dimona and cruised into the Negev desert, an event that Nasrallah brushed off as “inevitable” and hardly an achievement by Israeli forces. He said the drone had already served its purpose.

It was an apparent retort at Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu who Thursday championed Israel's military as one that would “act with determination to defend its borders”, just as “we thwarted over the weekend Hezbollah’s attempt” to penetrate Palestine's airspace.

The drone “was created in Iran—not in Russia-- and operated by the youth of Hezbollah,” said Nasrallah, urging the Lebanese public to recognize a major and unprecedented shift in the regional balance of power that the feat signals.

Whereas Israel has undertaken more than 20,000 flights over Lebanon since the last war between the two states in 2006, in direct violation of UN resolution 1701 which ended that conflict, Lebanese overflights over Palestine had previously been unheard of.

The disparity was chalked up to a lack of Lebanese air-power, making Israeli airspace nearly impenetrable, that wisdom now being dealt a crushing blow.

“We possess the ability to hide our [military] capabilities, and to reveal them at the appropriate time, and to send messages at the appropriate time,” said Nasrallah.

“It is our natural right to coordinate reconnaissance missions when we please,” he added.

Nasrallah offered the mission as a prelude for what would come in the event of another war in Israel. “This proves we can infiltrate their defenses no matter how intricate,” said Nasrallah.

In recent speeches and interviews, Nasrallah threatened to conduct incursions into occupied Palestine should fighting break out again.

Reports on Syria military engagement "false"

The Hezbollah chief also shot down reports of the group fighting alongside the forces of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in their campaign against rebels.

Documents produced by pan-Arab news channel Al-Arabiya alleged that scores of Hezbollah fighters had been slain in Syria of late, leading the outlet to conclude that Hezbollah cadres have covertly been lending Assad some firepower.

“We have not engaged in the fight in Syria until this moment,” said Nasrallah.

He spoke of “over 30,000 Lebanese citizens” who have lived in Syria for “over 100 years”, casualties of the Sykes-Picot agreement which split many families in two. Some of these Lebanese are Hezbollah fighters, who coordinate operations in the Lebanese Bekaa, and who fell victim to rebel raids on their villages.

He did not rule out the possibility that the fighters faced off with rebels, but said that such acts occur on an individual-basis, not an organizational one.

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