Arming of Hezbollah Could Spark Israel-Syria War: US Official

AhlulBayt News Agency (Link) (January 18, 2010)

In an interview with Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai published on Sunday, a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that �if Syria supplies Hezbollah with surface-to-air missiles (SA-2), war will break out and Tel Aviv will directly strike Damascus.�

In addition, the official said Syria trained Hezbollah members in Damascus on how to use the SA-2 missiles. Israel has previously warned the country not to supply Hezbollah with the missiles, according to the US source.

�Any possible military attack by Hezbollah against Israel will be met by a �harmful war� on Lebanon. Israel made a mistake in 2006 by not striking Syria during the war with Lebanon, and any new attack from Hezbollah against it will not spare Damascus from a strike,� he added.

Israel�s top priority, the official said, is preventing Syria from supplying Hezbollah with the SA-2 missiles.

�During the 2006 war in Lebanon, Damascus told Tel Aviv it wanted peace and was not going to side with Hezbollah,� the official alleged. Following the war, however, the United Nations and international intelligence community have been monitoring attempts to smuggle weapons from Syria to Hezbollah, he added.

The official also compared South Lebanon after the 2006 war to the situation in the Golan Heights in Syria, which he said has enjoyed a calm climate after a cease-fire agreement was signed between Israel and late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in 1974.

He said Hezbollah�s desire to liberate the Shebaa farms, which is occupied by Israel, does not justify military attacks against the entity. �Launching war with Tel Aviv is not an excuse for Hezbollah.� The official said he does not think a war will break out anytime soon, �unless Syria crosses the line.�