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Murr Worked with US against Hizbullah: WikiLeaks

Defense Minister Elias Murr was reportedly giving U.S. diplomats advice to pass on to Israel for any Israeli attack on Hizbullah, the Los Angeles Times quoted a leaked WikiLeaks cable as saying.

Murr has dismissed the cables as "incomplete and inaccurate."

The cable says United States officials collaborated with Murr to spy on and allow Israel to potentially attack Hizbullah in the weeks that preceded the bloody May 2008 confrontation in Beirut when Hizbullah took control of most of west Beirut.

According to classified U.S. State Department dispatches provided to news organizations by WikiLeaks, the American military flew planes over Lebanon in 2008 to identify Hizbullah positions and provide the information to friendly elements within the Lebanese government, specifically the Ministry of Defense, the Los Angeles Times said.

It said that in a separate American cable, Murr is described as giving American diplomats advice to pass on to Israel for any Israeli attack on Hezbollah and vowing that the Lebanese army would stay out of such a fight.

"Murr is trying to ascertain how long an offensive would be required to clean out Hizbullah," said the March 2008 cable from former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Michele Sison to Washington. The Lebanese army "will move to pre-position food, money, and water with these units so they can stay on their bases when Israel comes for Hizbullah — discreetly, Murr added."

The secret spy plane missions, called "Operation Cedar Sweep," came in several cables dated April and May 2008.

U.S. diplomats complained in the cables that Britain wouldn't allow Americans to stage the flights from an airbase it controls in Cyprus. Britain, U.S. diplomatic officials bristled, wanted assurances that the entire Lebanese Cabinet, which included Hezbollah, and not just Murr had signed off on the missions and that captured Hezbollah members would not be tortured. They also worried that Cypriots would be outraged to learn of the missions and "could turn off the utilities at any time."

The cable depicts him as saying that the Lebanese army's "strategic objective was to survive a three-week war 'completely intact' and able to take over once Hizbullah's militia has been destroyed."

Murr, according to the leaked documents, reportedly told the Americans that Israel should avoid conducting attacks in southern Lebanon and not "bomb bridges and infrastructure in the Christian areas."

"Murr offered some ideas aimed at avoiding turning the Christian population against Israel when the next war with Hizbullah occurs," Sison recalled. "Murr also outlined his orders to the Lebanese Army when/if Israel invades to counter Hizbullah."

Murr recommended via the U.S. that the Israelis hit Hizbullah rocket locations in east Lebanon's Bekaa Valley and elsewhere.


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