Lebanon News

Weakened Syria unlikely to join Iran in war against Israel: report

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on December 30, 2012 shows Syria's General Fahd Jassem al-Freij (R), Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the Armed Forces and Minister of Defense, accompanied by senior officers of the General Command, during an inspection of soldiers in Damascus. (AFP PHOTO/HO/SANA)

BEIRUT: Hezbollah and Syria, Iran’s two allies in the region, are unlikely to help Tehran in any military confrontation with Israel given the weakened state of the government in Damascus, Maariv newspaper reported Friday.

Maariv, referring to an intelligence report by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said Syria would not risk losing its grip on power by joining a battle to defend Iran as its central government faces rapid disintegration as a result of the 21-month-old crisis there.

The report, which Maariv said was presented to Israeli diplomats at a Jerusalem conference this week, also said the conflict in Syria has taken its toll on the military there.

"Iran's ability to harm Israel in response to an attack on our part declined dramatically," Maariv quoted a senior official who attended a Jerusalem conference as saying.

In recent months, Israeli officials have upped their rhetoric about a possible unilateral attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities while the U.S. has said that it will not allow the Islamic Republic to obtain an atomic bomb.

The U.S., Western countries and Israel fear Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

The Islamic Republic has warned Israel it will retaliate should the Jewish state target any of its nuclear plants.

According to the report, the chances of Hezbollah joining Iran in any retaliatory action against Israel have also diminished as a result of difficulties in supplying the resistance group with weapons because of the crisis in Syria.

The inability to replenish its arms, thus leaving Lebanon defenseless, would force Hezbollah to think twice about intervening in any conflict between Iran and the Jewish state, the report said.

The party would also face fierce opposition from local parties and lose political momentum in Lebanon should it take part in any action against the Jewish state, it added.

The report said the unrest in Syria had contributed to the virtual elimination of “the axis of evil.”

In an interview with Almayadeen television late last year, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said that U.S. military bases in the region could be targeted by Iran if Israel launched an attack on its controversial nuclear plants.

Months after fighting broke out in Syria in 2011, Nasrallah warned the U.S. and Israel that any war on Iran or Syria would engulf the entire region and since then has repeatedly repeated that his party is ready for any challenge despite the crisis in Syria.





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