Reuters – February 18, 2008
The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Monday Israel would soon be destroyed by the "hands of Hezbollah", the Lebanese group which is backed by the Islamic Republic, Fars News Agency reported.
Guards commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari made the comment in a letter to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to offer condolences after the killing of senior guerrilla commander Imad Moughniyah in a car bomb last week in Damascus.
"In the near future, we will witness the destruction of the cancerous existence of Israel by the powerful and competent hands of the Hezbollah combatants," Jafari was quoted as saying.
Iran does not recognize Israel and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has often predicted the imminent demise of the Jewish state, drawing criticism from the West which fears Iran wants to make nuclear bombs that could threaten the region.
Iran denies any such nuclear ambitions, insisting its atomic work is peaceful, and Ahmadinejad has said his country is not a threat to anyone, not even Israel.
Western analysts say the Revolutionary Guards, an ideological wing of Iran's armed forces, has given military support to Hezbollah. Tehran denies this, saying it only provides moral backing to the Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim group.
Moughniyah was wanted for years by the United States and Israel for planning attacks that killed hundreds. As a wanted man, he moved secretly between Lebanon, Syria and Iran.
Iran has blamed Israel for Moughniyah's killing.
"Undoubtedly the martyrdom of this sincere fighter will strengthen the determination of all revolutionary and combatant Muslims, particularly his co-combatants in confrontation with the Zionist regime," Jafari added in his letter.
The Guards were set up after the 1979 revolution in Iran to protect Iran's Islamic system. They have land, sea and air units with a separate command structure to the regular military. They have an expanding economic role, including in Iran's oil industry.
(Reporting by Hossein Jaseb; Writing by Edmund Blair, editing by Ralph Boulton)
Last updated 19/02/2008