[R-G] Hezbollah Arms Seized
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Sat Feb 10 10:40:57 MST 2007
Lebanese defense minister: seized Hezbollah arms will be used by army
The Associated Press
Friday, February 9, 2007
Lebanon's defense minister on Friday rejected Hezbollah's demands that
a truckload of its ammunition seized this week be returned to the
militant group. He said the Lebanese army would keep the ammunition
and use if if Israel attacks.
The shipment was seized on Thursday in an east Beirut suburb, raising
tensions between the Syrian and Iranian-backed Hezbollah and the
Western-backed government, which are engaged in a power struggle.
Defense Minister Elias Murr said the Lebanese army would keep the ammunition.
"The truck and the weapons are now in the south ... and we will use
them tomorrow morning if there is an Israeli violation," Murr said
after talks with the new commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force in
southern Lebanon, Major-General Claudio Graziano of Italy.
U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman sharply criticized Hezbollah for the
"We've heard Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah talk very
proudly of the weapons his organization already has. So one has to ask
what are these for now?" he asked Friday.
Nasrallah boasted soon after a cease-fire ended the July-August war
between his guerrillas and Israeli forces that his group had
replenished its arsenal of rockets, numbering some 33,000.
The Shiite Muslim Hezbollah had acknowledged the ammunition seized
Thursday belonged to the guerrilla group and demanded the government
immediately release the shipment. It urged the government to abide by
its own policy, proclaimed in 2005, to support the "resistance" in the
south — which is Lebanese shorthand for the guerrilla.
In a televised interview late Thursday, Murr criticized Hezbollah's
statement, saying he would have liked to see the group offer the
shipment to the Lebanese army which on Wednesday engaged in a shootout
with Israeli troops on the tense Israel-Lebanon-border.
It was the most serious clash since the summer war.
Hezbollah legislator Hassan Fadlallah said Hezbollah insists on
recovering the ammunition
"When we want to give gifts to the army we will do it, because the
army is defending the border," he said at a press conference Friday.
Under a U.N. resolution that ended the war, Hezbollah is banned from
rearming. But Murr said in the interview that the truckload of
ammunition came from within Lebanon. "Not even a mosquito" could cross
the Syrian-Lebanese border, he said, in references to allegations of
Syrian assistance to Hezbollah.
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