Hizbullah fighters stage major military maneuvers in south Lebanon
Thousands of Hizbullah fighters staged secret military maneuvers without weapons or uniforms near Israel's border in southern Lebanon, a Lebanese newspaper reported Monday. Al-Akhbar, a pro-Hizbullah newspaper, said Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah personally supervised the maneuvers, which it reported were carried out in the last three days and were the biggest ever staged on Israel's border by the Shiite movement.
Al-Akhbar said the Hizbullah maneuvers were carried out south of the Litani River in southern Lebanon and aimed at "deterring the enemy from carrying out any adventure in Lebanon." The zone has been controlled by a U.N. peacekeeping force and the Lebanese army since last year's war. "A state of Israeli alertness is countered by extraordinary movement by the resistance (Hizbullah)," read a front-page headline Monday in As-Safir, another Beirut-based newspaper. It quoted witnesses in southern Lebanon as saying they observed "unusual movement" by Hizbullah for the first time since last year's war, but gave no further details.
According to the AP, a Lebanese security official said Lebanese forces in south Lebanon "did not register any armed presence south of the Litani." The official added troops are under orders to prevent any armed presence in accordance with a U.N. Security Council resolution that ended last year's fighting, but pointed out "that civilians have the right to freely move in their villages" and if they do not carry weapons, they are not breaking the law.
Al-Akhbar said Hizbullah's maneuvers were carried out all along the border with Israel "in extreme secrecy without any show of arms." It quoted Nasrallah as telling the participants that the maneuvers were intended "for foe and friend to make them understand that the resistance (Hezbollah) is fully ready to confront any kinds of Israeli threats."