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Israel in 'direct combat' with Iran after Syria raid, says Hezbollah

Discours du chef du Hezbollah libanais Hassan Nasrallah diffusé par la chaîne du mouvement Al-Manar, le 19 janvier 2018
Handout (AL-MANAR TV/AFP)
Israel declined to comment on accusation by Syria that its forces were behind the T-4 strike

Israel's strike on a Syrian airbase this week has put it in direct confrontation with regional foe Iran, the head of Lebanon's Tehran-backed Hezbollah movement said Friday.

"The Israelis committed a stupid, historic mistake... and put themselves in direct combat with Iran," Hassan Nasrallah warned in a televised address.

"This is unprecedented in seven years (of war in Syria): that Israel directly targets Iran's Revolutionary Guard," Nasrallah said.

Seven Iranian personnel were killed in Monday's early-morning strike on the T-4 air base in Syria, but Tehran had not specified which units the fighters belonged to.

On Friday, Nasrallah said the casualties were elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the first to be targeted by Israel in Syria's long-running conflict, declaring it a "major incident."

"This is unprecedented in seven years: that Israel directly targets Iran's Revolutionary Guard," Nasrallah said.

"This is a turning point for the region, and what came before is not what will come after," he warned.

Israel is believed to have carried out numerous raids inside Syria since 2013 but it rarely admits to them publicly.

It declined to comment on accusations by the Syrian government and ally Russia that Israeli forces were behind the T-4 strike.

Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah fighters have a presence at the base, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Observatory said a total of 14 fighters, including Iranians, died in the strike.

Moscow has said no Russians were killed in the attack.

The strike also came just two days after a suspected chemical gas attack which killed more than 40 people in a rebel-controlled town outside the Syrian capital.

The alleged use of poison gas prompted US President Donald Trump and other Western leaders to threaten military action against Syria -- something Nasrallah shrugged off on Friday. 

"Let the whole world know that Trump's Hollywood-style tweets and threats have not, and will not, scare Syria, Iran, Russia, or the region's resistance movements and peoples," he said.

Nasrallah echoed Syrian and Russian government denials that President Bashar al-Assad's forces were behind the attack.

Douma was the last rebel-controlled town in the devastated suburb of Eastern Ghouta, which Assad is now poised to declare fully in government hands after a two-month assault. 

"Why would the victor use a chemical substance?" Nasrallah asked. 

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