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Hezbollah leader boasts group has ‘highly accurate’ missiles

September 20, 2018
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A Lebanese Shiite supporter of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, holds a portrait of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, during activities to mark the ninth of Ashura, a 10-day ritual commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. Hassan Nasrallah says his group may reduce the number of its fighters in Syria because of an easing of the conflict, particularly after a recent Russian-Turkey agreement that prevented an offensive on the last rebel stronghold. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah boasted Thursday the group now possesses “highly accurate” missiles despite Israeli attempts to prevent it from acquiring such weapons.

Hassan Nasrallah didn’t offer specifics on the precision weapons, but his comments prompted a reply from Israel’s Prime Minister.

Benjamin Netanyahu warned the Hezbollah leader that “if he confronts us, he will receive a lethal blow that he can’t even imagine.”

Israel worries that Hezbollah has been improving its capabilities and Israeli officials have said they will not allow “game-changing” weapons, such as guided missiles, to reach the group.

In recent months, Israel has acknowledged carrying out scores of strikes in Syria, most of them believed aimed at halting suspected arms shipments for Hezbollah from Iran, its main backer and Israel’s archenemy.

On Thursday, Nasrallah claimed Israeli strikes in Syria to prevent Hezbollah from acquiring precise missiles were ineffective.

“I tell (Israel) no matter what it did to cut the route, it is over. It has already been achieved,” he said, adding that Hezbollah “now possesses precision missiles and non-precision and weapons capabilities.”

Nasrallah was speaking during a traditional televised speech at the end of Ashoura, a top religious holy day for Shiite Muslims that lasts for ten days.

He told supporters to be confident and Israelis to be concerned of Hezbollah’s capabilities.

Nasrallah said the balance of power in the region has changed.

Hezbollah has thousands of fighters in Syria supporting President Bashar Assad’s forces in the civil war.

“If Israel imposes a war on Lebanon, Israel will face a destiny and reality it didn’t expect any day,” Nasrallah said.

Nasrallah’s speech was broadcast on a large screen to supporters in Beirut’s majority-Shiite suburb of Dahiya.

On Wednesday, Nasrallah said Israeli claims to have targeted a shipment to Hezbollah in Syria’s Latakia province earlier this week were “lies.”

Hezbollah fighters will continue to be deployed in Syria, he said, but perhaps in lesser numbers due to reduced fighting there after Syrian government forces regained control of most rebel-held areas.

Nasrallah also urged supporters to rally behind Iran, saying it’s facing hard times as more U.S. sanctions take effect in November.

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