Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tape shows Hezbollah 'confession'

Tape shows Hezbollah 'confession'

The Israeli army has released a video apparently showing a Hezbollah fighter admitting to taking part in a raid on Israel and undergoing training in Iran.

On the tape, the fighter describes his role in the raid in which two Israeli soldiers were seized on 12 July, triggering the current conflict.

The man identifies himself as Hussein Ali Suleiman, 22, and says he flew from Syria to Iran for training in 2003.

The videoed interrogation appears to have been heavily edited.

The Israeli army announced his capture on Sunday, but did not say when he had been seized, according to the Associated Press.

'Special flight'

In the video, released on Monday, he said he was tasked with cutting certain access routes during the cross-border raid in which Hezbollah captured two Israeli troops and another eight died in clashes.

Mr Suleiman said he had undergone several training sessions and courses since joining the militant group as a teenager.

During one of these in 2003, he said, he was driven from Beirut to Damascus in Hezbollah cars and then took a special flight to Iran without passing through passport control.

He then took part in military exercises in Iran along with 40 or 50 other Hezbollah members, he said.

Mr Suleiman also said he had attended an 18-month night school course for soldiers, which included classes in Islamic law and jurisprudence.

After Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000, ending its 18-year occupation of the area, he said he attended a 45-day "fighter" course covering weapons training, sabotage and communications.

In the footage, Mr Suleiman appeared to have light bruises or wounds on his cheeks and lips, and the tape was edited with some of his answers cut off in mid-sentence, AP reported.

On Friday, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) released footage of what it said were Hezbollah fighters blindfolded and captured during an operation in south Lebanon.