Tehran is using Hizbullah's confrontation with the Jewish state to test the abilities of Iranian weapons and to observe Israeli military capabilities, Lebanon's Druze leader Walid Jumblatt charged in a WorldNetDaily interview.
Jumblatt also said he fears Syria will take advantage of the growing crisis in Lebanon to reassert its influence in the country and convince the international community Syrian domination of Lebanon is crucial to the stability of the Middle East.
He warned Damascus might initiate a wave of terror in Lebanon following Israel's military campaign there to further destabilize the country, including by assassinating the Lebanese prime minister.
"Iran is bringing in (to Lebanon) sophisticated weaponry," said Jumblatt who is head of Lebanon's Progressive Socialist Party and is largely considered the most prominent anti-Syrian Lebanese politician. "The Iranians are actually experimenting with different kinds of missiles in Lebanon by shooting them at the Israelis. Iran is using this violence to test certain of (Israel's) abilities,"
Iran is accused of supplying Hezbollah was thousands of rockets the terror group has launched the past three weeks into northern Israeli population centers, including Haifa, the country's third largest city. Many of the fired rockets have been Katyushas he says were upgraded by Iran. Hizbullah is also in possession of Iranian Zelzal missiles, with a range of about 125 miles, making Tel Aviv vulnerable.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Photo: Reuters)
Earlier this month, an Iranian Silkworm C-802 radar-guided anti-ship cruise missile struck an Israeli naval vessel, killing four soldiers. It was the first time the missile had been introduced in the battle with Israel. Military officials here say the Israeli ship's radar system was not calibrated to detect the Silkworm, which is equipped with an advanced anti-tracking system.
The Syrian connection
Jumblatt said he is worried Syria might try to gain more control of Lebanon following Israel's military campaign.
"Syria will likely try to tell the world, 'Look, see, since we left Lebanon the Cedar Revolution and the forces in Lebanon that got our military out through popular support, those forces are not able to control Lebanon. While we (the Syrians) were in control, Lebanon was a safe place. Now it's not. We need to come back in,'" said Jumblatt.
"I would not be surprised if they even try to wiggle their way into a deal by convincing the Americans that Syrian influence in Lebanon will stabilize the region," Jumblatt said.
Syria originally sent forces into Lebanon in 1976 during the Lebanese Civil War. It militarily occupied the country until Syrian troops withdrew last year under intense international pressure following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, for which Damascus was widely blamed.
Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese, led by Jumblatt and other anti-Syrian politicians, had staged a "Cedar Revolution" of popular protests demanding freedom from Damascus.
Jumblatt predicted Syria will attempt to further destabilize Lebanon to advance the argument of asserting its influence in the country.
"I would not be surprised if the Syrians try to overthrow our government and assassinate (Lebanese Prime Minister Faud) Sinora. (Syrian President Bashar) Assad made comments last month about al-Qaida infiltrating Lebanon. Now Assad can send into our country the same extremists he has been sending into Iraq to blow themselves up and wreak havoc here and blame it on al-Qaida. No one can prevent him from doing this."
Asked if he feared another full-scale Syrian military occupation of Lebanon, Jumblatt replied, "Another? In truth the Syrians never left Lebanon. They triggered this war through their proxy Hizbullah. They continue to hold us hostage."
Reprinted with permission by WorldNetDaily