Hezbollah said on Friday that there is no truth to reports it assured Russia there would be no military response to the alleged Israeli strikes on it’s forces in Syria on Wednesday, according to a Hezbollah statement read out on its Al-Manar TV station.
The terror organization said the reports were an “invention.”
Despite the strong denials, Hezbollah did not explicitly promise an attack, leaving doubt as to whether one will be forthcoming.
The Syrian regime accused Israel of firing surface-to-surface missiles targeting the Mezzeh Air Base near Damascus on Wednesday, causing damage but no casualties.
Hezbollah’s Al-Maydeen television channel said the group “was almost certain” that the Israel Air Force carried out the strikes from Lebanese airspace.
If Hezbollah does strike at Israel, it would not be for the first time since the end of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
In January 2015, following a reported Israeli air strike on a convoy of Hezbollah and Iranian operatives who were constructing a terrorist base in the Syrian Golan, Hezbollah retaliated, firing a volley of Kornet guided missiles an IDF convoy, killing a soldier and commander in their D-Max vehicle. The attack was launched from five kilometers away on the Lebanese side of the border with Israel.
Russia is heavily backing the Assad regime in the Syrian Civil War, which relies also on the manpower of the Lebanese terror group, in addition to other foreign allies on the ground such as Iran’s Al Quds Force. If true, the rumors that Hezbollah might refrain from attacking Israel would insinuate the giving of orders from Moscow to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to show restraint.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has regularly visited and held telephone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past year in order to try and secure Israel’s interests in the region. With Russia stationing S-300 anti-aircraft missiles in Syria, Israel has been keen to ensure that the system is not used against Israeli planes.
Israel, which usually neither confirms nor denies responsibility for alleged strikes, is “working primarily to protect the security of our citizens, defend our sovereignty, and prevent the smuggling of sophisticated weapons, military equipment and weapons of mass destruction from Syria to Hezbollah,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Wednesday, following the claims by the Assad regime.
In April, Netanyahu admitted for the first time that the IDF had carried out strikes in Syrian territory.
Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.