The commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force visited Beirut recently to meet with Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah and to call for refraining from any provocative actions towards Israel, a French-language Lebanese daily reported Monday.
L’Orient-Le Jour said that Esmail Qaani “paid a secret visit” to Nasrallah and other officials of the Iran-backed group in the Hezbollah-stronghold of Beirut’s southern suburbs in recent days.
It is unclear when precisely the reported trip took place and Al Arabiya English was unable to independently verify the visit.
But Qaani reportedly told Nasrallah to remain on high alert after recent developments in the region, including the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh who was killed last week in an ambush while driving in Tehran.
Fakhrizadeh is believed by the West to have been the architect of a secret Iranian military nuclear program. Iran has accused Israel of being behind the scientist’s slaying, but no one has admitted to the operation.
Some analysts compared Fakhrizadeh to Qaani’s predecessor, Qassem Soleimani, in the importance of his role in the Islamic Republic regime’s foreign operations.
During Qaani’s reported visit, he told Nasrallah that it was “necessary to avoid any action that could be considered as an escalation and exploited by Israel” to respond.
On Monday, pro-Hezbollah Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar published an article saying that Hezbollah’s fighters were put on alert from Oct. 25 - Oct. 30 “inside and outside of Lebanon.”
Along with the article, a graphic was shown with the arsenal Hezbollah reportedly has and where each missile could strike inside of Israel.
According to the French-language Lebanese newspaper, Qaani also paid a visit to Syria and Iraq to deliver similar messages to officials and Shia militias and proxies.
During his trip to Iraq, Qaani called on Shia militias to stop targeting US interests in the country and to “calm” the situation as the US plans on withdrawing from Iraq, L’Orient-Le Jour reported.
US Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced last month a withdrawal plan that would cut the number of troops in Afghanistan from more than 4,500 to 2,500 and Iraq from about 3,000 to 2,500.
However, an opinion piece published by a hard-line Iranian newspaper on Sunday suggested Iran should attack the Israeli port city of Haifa if Israel carried out the killing of the Iranian scientist.