August 24, 2008 / 2:29 PM / 11 years ago

Iran will hit back if Israel attacks: Hezbollah

Two men hold up their hands in front of Lebanon's Hezbollah's flag in Tehran, April 5, 2008. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Israel will be targeted by thousands of rockets if it attacks Iran, a senior official in the Tehran-backed group Hezbollah said on Sunday.

There has been speculation that either the United States or Israel could attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, although both have said force should be a last recourse in curbing a nuclear program which they suspect aims to build atomic weapons.

Iran, which says its nuclear program is peaceful, is the main backer of Hezbollah — a Lebanese political and military group which fired thousands of missiles into Israel during a 34-day war in 2006.

“The first shot fired from the Zionist entity towards Iran will be met by a response of 11,000 rockets in the direction of the Zionist entity. This is what military leaders in the Islamic republic have confirmed,” said Mohammed Raad, the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc. His remarks were reported by the National News Agency.

Hezbollah has not said what it would do in the event of a conflict between Iran and Israel. Analysts count Hezbollah, which shares Iran’s Shi’ite Islamist ideology, as a major asset for the Islamic republic in the event of conflict.

Tehran has said it will respond severely to any attack. Israel staged an air force exercise in June that triggered speculation about a possible assault on its nuclear sites.

Both Hezbollah and Israel have said the group has expanded its missile capability since the 2006 conflict.

Writing by Tom Perry

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