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Friday, July 21, 2006

How Iran Prepared for Assault

Hezbollah's attack on an Israeli unit on July 12 came only after several secret meetings in Damascus between the Iranians, Lebanese and Syrians.

According to a sequence of events established by Intelligence Online, the secretary-general of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, paid a secret visit to Damascus on July 4 on the pretext of meeting a grandson of ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who was passing through the Syrian capital.

According to a fundamentalist source in Beirut, he was accompanied only by his closest political and military adviser, Hassan Khalil. At Iran's embassy in the Syrian capital, he met with a delegation made up of the ambassador Mohamed Hassan Akhtari (who is also the representative of Iran's spiritual guide, Ali Khamenei); Ali Larijani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and negotiator on Iran's nuclear program; general Hussein Firuz Abadi, armed forces chief-of-staff; and representatives of gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, commander in chief of the Revolutionary Guards (Pasdarans).

Precise orders were issued to Nasrallah to prepare Hezbollah for operations to kidnap Israeli soldiers and conduct missile launches.

The following day, after flying back to Tehran, Larijani took off again for Brussels for talks on July 5 with Javier Solana, the European Union's high representative for foreign and security policy, concerning Iran's nuclear program. The talks got nowhere but the two agreed to meet again on July 11 for a "last chance" round of negotiations.

In the meantime, Hezbollah forces flanked by 250 Iranian Army ballistic missile experts and 800 to 1000 Pasdarans prepared the operation, according to sources. Immediately after the deadlock in Brussels, Larijani flew to Damascus. He met initially with Syrian vice president Farouk al Shara, who gave president Bashar al Assad's blessings to Hezbollah's coming operation. He then conferred with Nasrallah's adviser, Khalil, who had stayed on in Damascus, and gave him the order to attack an Israeli unit and capture the soldiers. Just as Hamas had previously done in Gaza.
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