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Thursday, April 15, 2010    

Syria began to train Hizbullah to operate Scuds in late 2009

JERUSALEM — Syria is said to have trained Hizbullah to operate Scud missiles. Officials said Hizbullah training was detected in late 2009 in military bases in eastern Syria.   

Israel has reported that Syria shipped advanced Scud missiles to the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah. Officials said the Syrians transferred Scud B missiles to Hizbullah in early 2010. Scud B has a range of close to 300 kilometers, sufficient to strike Israel's nuclear facility in the southern city of Dimona, Middle East Newsline reported.

"Syria continues its double speak," President Shimon Peres said on April 13. "On the one hand it speaks about peace and on the other hand it passes sophisticated Scud missiles to Hezbollah that threaten Israel."

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This marked the first Israeli confirmation of reports over the last few weeks of Syrian shipments of Scud B missiles to Hizbullah. Officials said several Scud shipments were said to have been completed through Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

"The transfer of arms from Syria to Hizbullah and Syria's support of terrorist organizations does not square with its declarations of seeking peace," Peres said. "We will not allow Syria to play this double game. The transfer of weapons reveals Syria's true face."

Israel's military has confirmed the Scud shipments to Hizbullah. Officials acknowledged that a Hizbullah Scud arsenal marked a major and immediate threat to most of Israel.

"The introduction of systems that upset the balance endangers stability and calm," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.

Officials said Israel has sought to recruit international support to block Hizbullah deployment of the Scuds in Lebanon. They said France and the United States have agreed to pressure the Lebanese government and Syria to prevent the emergence of a Scud missile arsenal for the Iranian-sponsored militia.

"We have relayed our concerns at the highest levels about weapons that could destabilize the region," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on April 14.

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