U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attend a meeting at the Pentagon Monday in Arlington, Virginia. (Getty / G. Fabiano-Pool)
Washington - President Bush said Monday that Hezbollah guerillas suffered a defeat at the hands of Israel in their monthlong Mideast war.
"There's going to be a new power in the south of Lebanon," Bush said.
The president also said the war was part of a broader struggle between freedom and terror and "we can only imagine how much more dangerous this conflict would be if Iran had the nuclear weapon it seeks." Bush said Iran and Syria were the primary sponsors of Hezbollah guerrillas who captured two Israeli soldiers, igniting the battle with Israel. More than 900 people were killed in the fighting, and there was massive destruction in southern Lebanon.
Bush said the "responsibility for this suffering lies with Hezbollah." The president spoke at the State Department after conferring with his national security team, first at the Pentagon and then at the State Department. He was flanked by Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Bush said the U.N. cease-fire resolution was "an important step forward that will help bring an end to the violence." "We certainly hope the cease-fire holds," he said.
"Lebanon can't be a strong democracy when there is a state within a state and that's Hezbollah," Bush said.
"Hezbollah attacked Israel without any knowledge of the (Lebanese) government. Hezbollah attacked Israel. Hezbollah started the crisis, and Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis," the president said.
In the Mideast, there were competing claims about who came out on top in the war that claimed more than 900 lives.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the war had shifted the strategic balance in the region and eliminated the "state within a state" run by Hezbollah, restoring Lebanon's sovereignty in the south.
But Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said his guerrillas achieved a "strategic, historic victory" against Israel.