Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hizballah Prepares for the Next War

By Nicholas Blanford / Jezzine, South Lebanon

"....Whether these rugged hills will see yet another war depends less on the likely combatants than on the U.S. and Iran. Hizballah is viewed as one component of Iran's deterrence against a possible attack on its nuclear sites, should diplomatic efforts fail to resolve the standoff with the West over its enrichment of uranium. And recent conversations with Hizballah fighters reveal an organization at the peak of its military powers, with an army of well-trained, disciplined and highly motivated combatants wielding advanced weaponry, cultivating new tactics and brimming with confidence....

"Israel is living in a state of confusion because it perceives that any aggression it would launch against Lebanon would be lost," boasted Hizballah deputy leader Sheik Naim Qassem this week, adding that he did not believe a new war with Israel was on the horizon. Perhaps not, but the look in the eyes of Hizballah's combatants suggest that not only are they fully prepared to fight one, they actually look forward to it.

"It doesn't matter. We can always rebuild. Our dignity is more important than roofs over our heads," says Haj Rida, a square-jawed unit commander. Such sangfroid illustrates the single-minded determination of the Hizballah combatant, nurtured by years of relentless religious instruction and military training...

Reports over the past year suggest that Hizballah has received advanced Russian shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, and some fighters have been trained in Syria on larger truck-mounted missile systems. U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources say Hizballah has also augmented its arsenal with larger, longer-range rockets with guidance capabilities. Many analysts believe that in the event of another war, Hizballah plans to strike strategic targets deep inside Israel. In February, movement leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah hinted that Hizballah now had the ability to strike targets in Tel Aviv.....

Hizballah's battle plans may also include having fighters infiltrate Israel to carry out raids and sabotage missions — a move that would be unprecedented in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israeli doctrine is to fight its wars in the territory of its enemies rather than on its home front. Says Ali: "God willing, we will go into Palestine next time."....."

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