WikiLeaks: US protested Syria’s arms supplies to Hezbollah

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

WASHINGTON - Syria was secretly supplying rockets and missiles to the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon as US President Barack Obama’s administration was renewing relations with the Middle East country and getting reassurances to the contrary, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The revelation was the latest in the ongoing analysis of 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables published online by WikiLeaks.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton protested the deception in February, according to one of the cables.

“In our meetings last week, it was stated that Syria is not transferring any ‘new’ missiles to Lebanese Hezbollah,” she said. “We are aware, however, of current Syrian efforts to supply Hezbollah with ballistic missiles. I must stress that this activity is of deep concern to my government, and we strongly caution you against such a serious escalation.”

The Times quoted a Pentagon official as saying Hezbollah’s arsenal included up to 50,000 rockets and missiles. Several dozen Fateh-110 missiles could reach Tel Aviv and most of the rest of Israel. It also has an estimated 10 Scud-D missiles.

Soon after taking office, the Obama administration in March 2009 made the first overtures to reopen contacts with Syria with a diplomatic and National Security Council delegation travelling to Damascus.

But by November, a cable from the US charge d’affaires in Damascus warned: “Syria’s determined support of Hezbollah’s military build-up, particularly the steady supply of longer-range rockets and the introduction of guided missiles, could change the military balance and produce a scenario significantly more destructive than the July-August 2006 war.”

That conflict between Hazbollah and the Israeli military killed at least 1,300 people, mostly Lebanese nationals.

will not be displayed