Report: leaked documents show Hezbollah gave assurances to Israel
The head of Shiite Lebanese movement Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, sent an "indirect message" to Israel last year saying his country's southern border is "the safest place in the world," Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported Wednesday.
The London-based daily cited leaked documents it obtained, detailing the full transcript of a meeting between Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mokdad and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Bogdanov on May 23, 2013.
According to the leaked documents, Bogdanov passed on Nasrallah's reassurances to Israel during the meeting.
In the meeting, the Russian official told his Syrian counterpart that he had a three-hour midnight meeting with Hassan Nasrallah in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
"You can tell the Israelis that Lebanon's southern borders are the safest place in the world because all of our attention is focused on what is happening in Syria," Bogdanov told Mokdad, referring to what Nasrallah had told him.
Bogdanov added that Hezbollah "does not harbor any intention of taking any action against Israel."
During the meeting, Mokdad emphasized that President Bashar al-Assad should stay in power in Syria.
"President Assad . . . has become a basic need," and without him "there would not be Syria . . . and the Syrian army would turn into terrorist gangs and fragmented factions."
The Syrian official said the "main goal" for the "Geneva I" peace talks aimed at ending the three-year conflict was "to halt foreign intervention."
Mokdad also commented on Israeli attacks against targets in Damascus in 2013, after the Jewish state alleged Syria harboring weapons for Hezbollah.
He said there were no Hezbollah arms.
Mokdad also warned: "We will not allow them to exploit our situation and we will provide Hezbollah with the sophisticated weapons it needs."
On Wednesday, the Syrian army said Israeli air raids on Syria killed one soldier and injured seven, warning that the strikes endangered regional security and stability.
The statement came after Israel announced it had carried out air raids overnight against several Syrian army positions that "aided and abetted" an attack against Israeli troops on Tuesday.
Syria, which has long accused the rebels fighting to oust President Assad of ties to Israel, said the Jewish state's strikes were intended to bolster the opposition.