updated 7/16/2006 7:14:05 AM ET 2006-07-16T11:14:05

An Israeli army general said Sunday that Iranian troops are helping Hezbollah guerrillas fire Iranian-made rockets at Israel, a claim the country fiercely denied.

Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, of the Northern Command, said Israeli forces had identified Iranian troops and that the rockets that hit Haifa earlier, which killed eight people, were Iranian-made.

Not long after, Shaul Mofaz, an Israeli Cabinet minister and former army chief of staff, said Sunday that the missile that hit the train depot in Haifa came from Syria.

"This is Syrian weaponry," he said as he toured the damaged train depot, hours after the attack.

Hamid Reza Asefi, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, denied the claims.

"There are no (Iranian) guards there. Shipment of (Iranian) missiles to Hezbollah is also not correct," he told reporters Sunday in Tehran.

Asefi also warned Israel that attacking Syria and expanding the conflict in the region would bring the Jewish state "unimaginable damages." His remarks came minutes after dozens of rockets were fired at Haifa.

"We hope the Zionist regime does not make the mistake of attacking Syria. Expanding the front of aggression and attacks ... will definitely face the Zionist regime with unimaginable damages," Asefi said.

In Israel, residents of Tel Aviv, the country's commercial hub, were warned to be wary of possible attacks and to listen out for air raid sirens.

No missiles or rockets have struck the city, but Israeli officials have warned that Hezbollah may have rockets that could reach the city.

Israeli warship hit
The Israeli army said on Sunday it had recovered the remains of three sailors missing after a naval warship was hit by Hezbollah fire off the coast of Lebanon last week.

Israel had reported four seamen missing after the Lebanese guerrilla group fired a missile at the ship, deployed off the coast of Beirut, on Friday. The body of another of the four was recovered on Saturday. On Saturday, a missile fired by Hezbollah damaged an Israeli warship off Lebanon, the army said Saturday. Elite Iranian troops helped fire the missile, a senior Israeli intelligence official said.

The intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information, said about 100 Iranian soldiers are in Lebanon and helped fire the Iranian-made, radar-guided C-102 at the ship late Friday.

The official added that the troops involved in firing the missile are from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, an elite corps of more than 200,000 fighters that is independent of the regular armed forces and controlled directly by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Initial information indicated the guerrillas had used a drone for the first time to attack Israeli forces. But the army’s investigation showed that Hezbollah had fired an Iranian-made missile at the vessel from the shores of Lebanon, said Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan.

“We can confirm that it was hit by an Iranian-made missile launched by Hezbollah. We see this as very profound fingerprint of Iranian involvement in Hezbollah,” Nehushtan said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Second ship attacked
Another Hezbollah missile also hit and sank a nearby merchant ship at around the same time, Nehushtan said. He said that ship apparently was Egyptian, but had no other information.

The Israeli vessel, a Saar 5-class missile ship named the “Spear,” was heading to its home port in Israel on Saturday, the army said.

A military official said the ship is one of the most technologically advanced in the Israeli fleet, boasting an array of Harpoon and Gabriel missiles, along with a system for electronically jamming attacking missiles and other threats.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said the missile detection and deflection system was not operating, apparently because the sailors did not anticipate such an attack.

The Israeli intelligence official said Hezbollah also has Iranian-made drones, and warned that they are more accurate than missiles.

Israel launched an offensive after Hezbollah guerrillas crossed the Israel-Lebanon border on Wednesday and captured two Israeli soldiers. Israel has bombarded Lebanon’s airport and main roads in the most intensive offensive against the country in 24 years, while Hezbollah has launched hundreds of rockets into Israel.

The intense fighting has sent shock waves through a region already traumatized by Israel’s battle against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

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