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Hezbollah chief threatens Israel over Syria strikes

In TV interview, Hassan Nasrallah says Hezbollah, Syrian and Iran capable, ready to respond to Israeli attacks at 'any time'
Nasrallah also renewed a threat to invade northern Israel (AFP)

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has threatened to retaliate against Israel for repeated strikes on Syria, in a television interview to be broadcast Thursday night.

Nasrallah told Beirut-based TV station Al-Mayadeen that his Iran-backed Shiite movement was well-armed and always ready to fight Israel, according to excerpts of the interview issued ahead of its broadcast.

A key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Nasrallah said that Israeli strikes on Syria "target the whole of the resistance axis" which includes Hezbollah, Damascus and Tehran.

"The repeated bombings that struck several targets in Syria are a major violation, and we consider that any strike against Syria is a strike against the whole of the resistance axis, not just against Syria," he said. "The axis is capable of responding. This can happen any time."

The Israeli air force has carried out several raids against targets in Syria, including depots storing weapons meant for Hezbollah, since the conflict there started nearly four years ago.

The most recent strike was in December, when Israeli warplanes struck weapons warehouses near Damascus, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group. Two members of Hezbollah were reportedly killed in the 8 December attack.

Israel has never confirmed it carried out the strikes, but says it has a policy of preventing arms transfers to militant groups including Hezbollah.

Israeli media said, however, after the December strikes that the air force had targeted arms convoys or depots of Iranian-made rockets.

Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters into Syria to defend Assad's government. 

In 2006, Hezbollah and Israel fought a devastating war that killed some 1,200 Lebanese - most of them civilians - and 160 Israelis - most of them soldiers.

In Thursday's interview, Nasrallah said his movement was ready to fight a new war against Israel in Lebanon and renewed a threat to invade the Galilee region of northern Israel.

Hezbollah fighters "must be prepared", he said. "When the resistance (Hezbollah) leadership... asks you (fighters)... to enter into Galilee, that means the resistance must be ready to enter into Galilee and to go even beyond the Galilee."

Asked about Hezbollah's arsenal, Nasrallah said the group had "all (the weapons) you can imagine... and in great quantities".

He added: "We are now stronger than we ever were as a resistance movement."