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Hezbollah warns of rocket barrage if Israel attacks Lebanon

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel on Sunday that thousands of rockets would rain down on Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities if Israel attacked Lebanon.

In a speech marking the Shi'ite Muslim festival of Ashura, Nasrallah said Hezbollah's response to any attack would dwarf the attacks from Gaza during the eight-day conflict between Israel and the Islamist Hamas rulers of the coastal strip.

"Israel, which was shaken by a handful of Fajr-5 rockets during eight days - how would it cope with thousands of rockets which would fall on Tel Aviv and other (cities)... if it attacked Lebanon?" he said in speech, relayed by video-link to tens of thousands of Shi'ite faithful in central Beirut.

Hezbollah, which fought an inconclusive 34-day war with Israel in 2006, flew a drone over Israel last month, further escalating tensions in the region after Israel threatened to bomb the nuclear sites of Hezbollah's patron Iran.

Nasrallah said the rockets fired into Israel during the Gaza conflict had a range of between 40 to 70 km (25 to 45 miles), while Hezbollah could strike anywhere from Israel's northern border to its southern Red Sea port of Eilat.

The mourning festival of Ashura commemorates the death of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Hussein and most of his family, leading to the division of Islam into Sunni and Shi'ite sects, a split that continues to plague the Islamic world.

(Reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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