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Hezbollah leader: Syria to supply weapons

BEIRUT -- Syria will supply "game-changing" weapons to Hezbollah, the chief of the Lebanese militant group said yesterday, less than a week after Israeli airstrikes on Damascus targeted alleged shipments of advanced Iranian missiles bound for Hezbollah.

Israel has signaled it will respond with airstrikes to any future weapons shipments, meaning it could quickly get drawn into Syria's civil war if the Hezbollah chief's declaration is more than an empty threat.

Hezbollah chief Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has rarely appeared in public in recent years for fear of being targeted by Israel. He said Hezbollah could expect strategic weapons from Syria in the future. "Syria will give the resistance special weapons it never had before," he said. "We mean game-changing."

Nasrallah said the weapons shipments were Syria's response to the Israeli airstrikes. "This is the Syrian strategic reaction," Nasrallah said. "This is more important than firing a rocket or carrying out an airstrike" against Israel.

Asked to comment on Nasrallah's declaration, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said: "We don't respond to words. We respond to action."

Also Thursday, Israeli security officials said they have asked Russia to cancel the imminent sale of an advanced air defense system to Syria.

In Rome, Secretary of State John Kerry said the transfer of advanced missile defense systems from Russia to Syria would be a "destabilizing" factor for Israel's security. -- AP

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