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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 July 2007, 01:29 GMT 02:29 UK
'We blocked US plans' - Hezbollah
Hassan Nasrallah makes a televised address in Bint Jbeil
Sheikh Nasrallah's saluted Lebanese killed in the 2006 conflict
The leader of Hezbollah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has said its conflict with Israel last year thwarted the United States' vision for a "new Middle East".

In a televised address, he said Israel and the US had wanted to extend Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's authority throughout Lebanon, but had failed.

He also warned that Hezbollah still possessed rockets and would target Israel again if it came under attack.

The 34-day conflict killed more than 1,000 civilians, mostly Lebanese.

Israel launched its offensive after Hezbollah militants seized two of its soldiers and killed several others during a cross-border raid on 12 July.

Hezbollah claimed a "historic victory" after the conflict ended with a UN-brokered ceasefire on 14 August.

Israeli 'failure'

In an address broadcast to 5,000 supporters in the southern town of Bint Jbeil, Nasrallah said "the American project was swept aside by the victory of the Islamic Resistance", Hezbollah's military wing.

"This war aimed to impose a new Middle East, broken up into confessional and ethnic mini-states, serving the interests of the United States and Israel," he said.

This resistance... is today stronger, more powerful, more solid, and more determined to confront the aggression and achieve victory
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah

"The Israelis and Americans wanted the Siniora government to expand its authority to the whole of Lebanon's territory to the detriment of the resistance, but that was another failure."

Hezbollah and the pro-Syrian opposition have been in political deadlock with supporters of the Prime Minister Siniora since November, when they withdrew from the cabinet demanding a unity government in which it would have the power of veto.

Earlier, the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, warned that Lebanon could descend into civil war if the impasse continues.

The Shia cleric also said Hezbollah's fighters had retained their supply of rockets and warned they would target Israel again if the movement came under attack.

"This resistance... is today stronger, more powerful, more solid, and more determined to confront the aggression and achieve victory," he added.

"We will not wait for anyone to defend us. We will defend ourselves and our country."

Sheikh Nasrallah said the Israel would only be able to secure its soldiers' release if it undertook "indirect negotiations and an exchange" of Lebanese prisoners it held.


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Hezbollah supporters gather for mass rally





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