Iran Caught Dead-Handed
Uri Dan, New York Post:
The bodies of members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard were found among Hezbollah fighters killed by Israeli forces in southern Lebanon - conclusive proof that Tehran is supporting the terror group, it was reported yesterday. Israel's Channel 10 television said the Iranians were identified by papers on their bodies, but gave no further details on how many were soldiers or where or when they were found.
Revolutionary Guard members have been training Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, sources said. READ MORE
Iran has insisted its support for the terror group is purely moral. Israeli officials have said that many of the rockets being fired against it are made in Iran.
A captured Hezbollah guerrilla, who took part in the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers that sparked the war in Lebanon, confessed in a video released this week that he received military training in Iran.
Hezbollah said it "categorically denies the lies and claims that the enemy is promoting that Iranian fighters are present in the confrontations with the occupation forces."
Hours earlier, defiant Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in a televised speech, warned that expanded Israeli military operations into Lebanon would be repelled by the same fierce resistance that has prevented Israeli troops from controlling the area over the 29 days since the conflict began.
"You can invade, you can land by air, by sea and take any hill - we will expel you with force and transform our land in the south to a graveyard for Zionist invaders," Nasrallah said.
"We will kill your officers and soldiers and inflict a calamity on you in the battlefield."
Nasrallah also called on the Arab residents of northern Israel to evacuate the city of Haifa.
"I plead with you to leave that city," he said.
Mounting evidence of Hezbollah's Iranian connection and Nasrallah's threats came amid these developments:
* Hezbollah guerrillas killed 15 Israeli soldiers in clashes across southern Lebanon, making it one of the bloodiest days of fighting.
Ten of the Israeli soldiers died in a battle in the border town of Debel, where Hezbollah militants used anti-tank missiles, sources said.
The Israeli army said 40 Hezbollah fighters were killed in the battle.
* Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's security Cabinet authorized a plan to send troops further into the country - up to the Litani River - about 18 miles from the Israeli border.
Israel's Maariv newspaper reported today that Olmert later decided to put plans for the wider offensive on hold to give U.S.-led efforts to curb Hezbollah a chance.
Israel Army Radio reported this morning that heavy battles were in progress in south Lebanese villages across the Galilee panhandle.
Hezbollah said its fighters were engaged in "a violent confrontation" with Israeli forces advancing on a border village.
Also today, Israeli troops - backed by tanks - entered the southern Lebanese town of Marjayoun.
Israeli forces were not met with any resistance as they entered the village. Sources said the operation was aimed at knocking out Hezbollah launch sites used to fire rockets on the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona - an indication the battle was part of the current military operations in the south.
* Diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement on a U.N. resolution aimed at ending the escalating conflict faltered yesterday over differences between the United States and France on the timing of an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.
France backs Lebanon's call for Israeli troops to pull out once hostilities end and Lebanon deploys 15,000 troops of its own.
The United States supports Israel's insistence on staying until a robust international force is deployed to the region.
Meanwhile, Iran's America-hating president. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. tried to play down the world's fears of what would happen if he gets a nuclear weapon. He granted an interview to Mike Wallace, which will be broadcast tonight on "The CBS Evening News."
"The time of the bomb is in the past, it's behind us," the bearded fanatic told Wallace. "Today is the era of thoughts, dialogue and cultural exchanges."
With Post Wire Services