BREAKING/UPDATE: Hebzollah chief to deliver speech tonight swearing “painful strike” against Israel
Omri Ceren, TIP
Via Lebanese media (technically the Naharnet update stream):
Information obtained by MTV: Nasrallah will tonight deliver a speech in which he will announce that Hizbullah will retaliate against Israel with a painful strike.
He has to say something after the Israeli strike, which is shaping up to be a strategic setback and PR nightmare for Hezbollah. Last week Nasrallah threatened to invade Golan-adjacent Israeli territory; then Hezbollah and Iran moved some of their top Syria guys into the theater for what Hezbollah is now describing as “field reconnaissance”; then the Israelis reportedly intercepted the convoy.
The entire thing has the feel of incompetent bluster coupled with reckless provocation. Lebanese officials and civilians are likely to be furious, in the aftermath of that incompetence and recklessness, Hezbollah overcorrects by dragging Lebanon into another war with Israel.
Just a reminder that early casualty figures always fluctuate as more news emerges. Earlier Turkish reports had 6 dead Iranians and 5 dead Hezbollah figures killed in the strike. That may have been confused: 6 Iranians seem to have been killed in a plane shot down earlier by rebels, while the 5 dead Hezbollah personnel would have been the onesin the convoy. Except now Lebanese sources are putting the number of Hezbollah figures killed in the convoy at 9 (http://www.dailystar.com.lb/
News/Lebanon-News/2015/Jan-18/ 284501-hezbollah-death-toll- in-israeli-strike-on-syria- revised-to-9-source.ashx).
Hezbollah has promised to reveal the names of those killed later tonight, so that should provide firmer information.
Omri Ceren of TIP advises:
More details are emerging about what happened on the Golan Heights today, in which Israeli jets reportedly targeted an Iranian-Hezbollah convoy that included military commanders. The Israelis are of course refusing to confirm or deny anything, though the Defense Ministry told a journalist something like “if ‘top’ Hezbollah people were killed in Syria, you’ve really got to ask yourself what they were doing there” (I’m paraphrasing, but not by much).
Some reports have the count as high as 11 killed: 6 Iranians and 5 Hezbollah (Turkish media citing a Lebanese security source: http://www.aa.com.tr/en/news/452146–6-iranians-5-hezbollah-killed-in-israeli-strike-in-syria). That’s going to change as more information comes out, but without any doubt this was a convoy of top Hezbollah and maybe even Iranian figures in the theater.
In particular keep close watch on one names on the casualty list – Abu Ali Tabtabai – who may have been the head of Hezbollah operations in all of Syria. Tabtabai is a common name so it’s clear if it was that Tabtabai, but some Levant analysts are already making the call that it was (FDD’s Lee Smith – https://twitter.com/LeeSmithTWS/status/556869358048141313 – UM/LCCD’s Phillip Smyth – https://twitter.com/PhillipSmyth/status/556864330374074371/photo/1).
If so Hezbollah and their Iranian sponsors are going to have some explaining to do. What was Tabtabai doing so close to the Syrian-Lebanese-Israeli border?
In the meantime, keep in mind that Hezbollah chief Nasrallah had earlier this week given a three hour interview in which he committed to invading Israeli territory in the Galilee, an area adjacent to the Golan:
Hezbollah is prepared for military intervention in Israel’s Galilee and beyond, deeper into Israeli territory, the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview with Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV to be aired Thursday evening. “We have made all necessary preparations for a future war with Israel,” Nasrallah said… “We have military abilities that will deliver us the victory against Israel,” Nasrallah threatened. “The military capability of the resisitance has not been damaged, and if Israel thinks differently, it is wrong.”
Obviously still developing…
“We have made all necessary preparations for a future war with Israel,” Hezbollah chief says.
Hezbollah is prepared for military intervention in Israel’s Galilee and beyond, deeper into Israeli territory, the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview with Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV to be aired Thursday evening.
“We have made all necessary preparations for a future war with Israel,” Nasrallah said.
He vowed that the group would not stay quiet in the face of attacks attributed to Israel in Syria. “We will provide an answer for every attack against Syria,” he said.
“We have military abilities that will deliver us the victory against Israel,” Nasrallah threatened. “The military capability of the resisitance has not been damaged, and if Israel thinks differently, it is wrong.”
In excerpts of the interview that were previously released on Wednesday, Nasrallah said that Hezbollah has more types of weapons than Israel can imagine.
According to the Hezbollah leader, Israel is interested in a conflict that would be a landslide victory for it, however he claims that such a win is completely unrealistic. “If Israel attacks Lebanon, our resistance is strong and our ability to win is great.”