BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that his Lebanese militant group does not need support from allies in Syria or Iran for any future battle against Israel.
Nasrallah’s comments, during a speech from an undisclosed location, are the closest thing yet to a response to allegations that Israeli jets were targeting a Syrian weapons convoy destined for Hezbollah during a strike near Damascus on Jan 30.
World powers fear that as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad loses control during a 23-month-old civil war, militant groups such as Hezbollah or Syrian rebels could acquire arms to use against Israel, including chemical weapons.
But Nasrallah, a close ally of Assad, said that Hezbollah is prepared for a future fight against its southern neighbour Israel, with which it fought a 34-day war in 2006.
“Everything we need for the next battle we have in Lebanon and we keep in Lebanon,” he said. “We do not need to take anything, not from Syria nor Iran.”
Damascus has denied assertions by diplomats, Syrian rebels and security sources that Syrian weapons were to be sent to Hezbollah. It said the Israeli air strike hit the Jamraya military research complex on the northwestern fringes of Damascus, 8 miles (13 km) from the border with Lebanon.
Syrian television broadcast what it said was footage from the Jamraya base showing extensive damage to buildings and several heavy military vehicles that appeared capable of carrying missiles.
Israel has maintained official silence about the raid. But on February 3 Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the attack showed Israel was serious about preventing the flow of heavy weapons into Lebanon, appearing to acknowledge for the first time that the Jewish state was behind the strike.
Reporting by Laila Bassam and Oliver Holmes; Editing by Mark Heinrich