Iran vows to keep backing Hezbollah during regional tensions linked to Israel-Hamas war

  • February 10, 2024

BEIRIUT — Iran’s foreign minister vowed after arriving in Beirut on Friday to keep supporting the militant Hezbollah group, saying Lebanon’s security affects that of Iran and the region.

Hossein Amirabdollahian was welcomed by representatives of Lebanon’s Hezbollah as well as the militant Palestinian group Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran, a main backer of the militant groups, has been calling on the U.S. to pressure Israel to stop its offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Hezbollah began attacks along Lebanon’s border with Israel on Oct. 8 after 17 years of relative calm, a day after Hamas launched its attack on southern Israel that triggered the ongoing war. Hezbollah officials have said they will stop attacking Israeli military posts when Israel’s attack on Gaza ends.

“Hezbollah and the resistance in Lebanon have courageously and wisely carried out their deterring and effective role,” Amirabdollahian told reporters at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport.

He said Iran will continue “its strong support to the resistance in Lebanon, as we consider Lebanon’s security as the security of Iran and the region.”

Amirabdollahian is scheduled to meet Lebanese officials and hold talks with Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

Shortly before he arrived in Beirut, Syrian state media reported that the country’s air defense units shot down two drones near Damascus, the capital. State TV quoted a military statement as saying the drones came from the direction of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The Syrian military statement gave no further details.

An opposition war monitor reported an airstrike hit an air base in Damascus’ western neighborhood of Mazzeh, without saying if there were casualties. It added that the strike occurred shortly after an Iranian cargo plane landed at the base.

Thousands of Iran-backed fighters are in Syria, where they have been fighting alongside Syrian government forces in the nearly 13-year civil war.

Israel rarely acknowledges its actions in Syria but has said it targets bases of Iran-allied militant groups. It has also targeted members of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in Syria, including a high-ranking general in December.

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