Report: Iran Commander Visited Lebanon, Asked Nasrallah Not to Provoke Israel

The new chief of Iran's Quds Force, General Esmail Ghaani, asked Hizbullah during a recent secret visit to Lebanon to “avoid provoking Israel,” a media report said on Monday.

“Ghaani, who succeeded General Qasem Soleimani as the head of the Quds Force, the elite unit of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in charge of foreign operations, has paid a secret visit to the southern suburbs of Beirut in recent days and has spoken with (Hizbullah chief Sayyed) Hassan Nasrallah and other political and military officials of the party,” Lebanon’s French-language daily L'Orient-Le Jour reported.

“The Iranian official stressed the need to remain on alert for any eventuality, while telling his interlocutors that it was necessary to avoid any action that could be seen as escalation and exploited by Israel to launch a major operation,” the newspaper added.

Two senior Iraqi Shiite politicians had recently told the Associated Press that Ghaani had visited Iraq in recent weeks to tell Iranian-backed Iraqi militia factions and Shiite politicians to avoid provoking tensions with the U.S. that could give an outgoing Trump administration cause to launch attacks in the U.S. president's final weeks in office.

Around that time, Nasrallah himself warned followers and allies to be vigilant during Trump's remaining time in power.

"All of us ... should be on high alert in these next two months so that it passes peacefully," Nasrallah said in televised remarks earlier this month even as he urged followers to "be prepared to face any danger, aggression or harm" and to respond in kind "if the U.S. or Israel's follies go that far."

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