Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday welcomed Russia's military buildup in Syria in support of common ally President Bashar Al-Assad, saying it was the “failure” of a the United States’ campaign against Islamic State (ISIS) that had forced Moscow's hand, Reuters reported.
Speaking in an interview with the group's Al-Manar TV, Nasrallah said that increased Russian support for Assad included highly advanced weapons systems, warplanes and helicopters.
He also confirmed that a localized ceasefire agreement had been struck in two areas of Syria, where Hezbollah is fighting alongside government forces against an array of insurgent groups including ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front.
Nasrallah, in a wide-ranging interview that was his first media appearance since Russia's recent military buildup hit headlines, said Washington's own campaign against ISIS had failed.
"(President Barack) Obama’s strategy in confronting Daesh and terrorism has failed," he said, using an Arabic acronym for IS, according to Reuters.
Nasrallah said that relying solely on air strikes would not defeat the jihadists and that U.S. efforts to recruit and train so-called moderate Syrian rebels to fight on the ground were evidence of a "devastating failure" by its anti-ISIS coalition.
It was this failure that had prompted Russia to step up military aid to Damascus, he claimed, after Moscow sent Assad hardware including fighter jets and personnel which it has described as "experts".
"We welcome any force which intervenes and supports the front in Syria, because through its participation, it will contribute to pushing away the major dangers that are threatening Syria and the region," Nasrallah was quoted as having said.
Recent reports said Russia had sent a military advance team to Syria and had been increasing its military presence in the war-torn country.
The United States was so concerned about reports of Russia’s increased presence in Syria that Secretary of State John Kerry phoned his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov a total of three times in ten days to discuss the situation.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu flew to Moscow for talks with Putin earlier this week. During the meeting with Netanyahu, Putin sought to calm Israeli concerns over the deployment of Russian soldiers in Syria, telling the Israeli Prime Minister his forces would act "responsibly," and noting the Syrian regime was in not fit state to attack Israel.
Russia insists Assad must be included in the international campaign against Islamic State, but the United States opposes this, saying the Syrian president is part of the problem.
Nasrallah said the military hardware sent by Moscow was "very advanced" and included warplanes, helicopters and precision missiles.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)