U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Iran and Syria are arming Hezbollah militants in Lebanon with sophisticated rockets and missiles. Gates says Hezbollah has far more rockets and missiles than most governments in the world, noting that such military capability is destabilizing to the Middle East. He spoke Tuesday at a Pentagon news conference with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Barak said Syria has been arming Hezbollah with weapons systems, including missiles, that can disrupt the "delicate balance" in Lebanon. But he said Israel has no plans to provoke a conflict with Hezbollah gunmen in Lebanon.
Israeli President Shimon Peres recently accused Syria of delivering long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah that can threaten Israel. Syria has denied the allegations, saying Israel is looking for an excuse to attack.
Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in
2006 that killed more than 1,200 Lebanese and about 160 Israelis. During the
war, Hezbollah fired thousands of missiles into Israel.
Hezbollah is supported by Iran and Syria and is considered a terrorist group by the United States and other countries.
The Obama administration has reached out to Syria in the past year by nominating the first U.S. ambassador to Damascus since 2005 and sending top diplomats to meet with Syria's president.
Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.
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