Iran vows to protect Hezbollah from Israeli attack

However, Tehran is “not interested” in expanding the Middle East conflict, an adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says

Iran will throw all of its military power behind Hezbollah if Israel launches a full-scale attack on the Lebanon-based Islamist movement, a senior official in Tehran has said. He added, however, that his country does not want an all-out war in the Middle East.

Tensions between the Jewish state and the Shia group, which has close ties with Iran, reached boiling point after the start of the Hamas-Israel war in October, with the two belligerents exchanging cross-border strikes. However, they have so far managed to avoid a major engagement.

In an interview with the Financial Times on Tuesday, Kamal Kharrazi, a foreign affairs adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reiterated that Iran is “not interested” in a regional war. He urged the US, Israel’s key ally, to put pressure on West Jerusalem to prevent such escalation.

However, Kharrazi insisted that “all Lebanese people, Arab countries, and members of the axis of resistance will support Lebanon against Israel” if efforts to avoid a major conflict prove unsuccessful. “In that situation, we would have no choice but to support Hezbollah by all means,” he said.

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The so-called ‘axis of resistance’ is an informal alliance that seeks to challenge US and Israeli influence in the region, and comprises Iran, Hamas, the Syrian government, the Houthis in Yemen, Islamic militia in Iraq, and several other militant groups.

Tehran is unlikely to launch a direct strike on Israel in response to an attack against Hezbollah, an Iranian official told the FT. Instead, it would probably use Islamic militant groups to retaliate, they added.

However, Iran took direct action against Israel in April after claiming that the Jewish state had attacked Tehran’s consulate in Damascus, Syria, killing several Iranian military officers. It launched a large drone raid on Israeli territory, and West Jerusalem retaliated with a number of limited strikes on Iran, but a major escalation was avoided.

Tensions between Iran and Israel peaked after Hamas launched a surprise attack on the Jewish state on October 7. In response, West Jerusalem started an offensive in Gaza, causing unprecedented destruction in the Palestinian enclave. Hostilities between Israel and Hamas have so far claimed the lives of more than 37,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis.

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