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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Israel, Iran and Hezbollah: Tehran's Journey to Support Lebanese Militias

Politics

Selim Zayed

Thu, 01 Nov 2018 20:07 GMT

Israel has launched several intense air strikes inside Syrian territory over the past few months targeting Iran and Hezbollah dependent military sites adjacent to the Syrian-Israeli border.

Israel targeted most of Iran's military infrastructures in Syria in May, in an assault deemed the most flagrant on Syria since the civil war broke out there.

The persistent Israeli strikes aim to disrupt the supply of Iranian weapons to Hezbollah and establish areas of high threat on the Syrian border.

Mechanisms of Smuggling Iranian weapons to Hezbollah

Firas Elias, an expert in Iranian affairs and professor of Political Science at Mosul University, Iraq, confirmed in statements to 7Dnews that Iran has established effective routes for sending weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Elias said, "In addition to exploiting the Iraqi and Syrian airspace, Tehran has also established other routes for smuggling weapons to the Lebanese Hezbollah. This was manifested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s success in enhancing military ties with elements from the Somali "Shabaab" military group under the pretext of the so-called holy marine Jihad. To do so, Hezbollah helped with the shipment of arms through the Red Sea before sending them to Sudanese tribal smugglers who continued the mission until the arms eventually reached the areas under the control of the Lebanese Hezbollah.

"Secondly,” said Elias, “Iran has established a route starting from the Iranian Kermanshah Province towards Diyala Governorate, and to the Syrian Abu Kamal, then to Daraa and Quneitra all the way down to the Beqaa Valley areas being controlled by the regime.”

Third, Iran transfers arms to Hezbollah through Armenia. This results from Iran strengthening its intelligence ties with Armenia, which opened an air route from Tehran via Yerevan to Beirut. Iran has also transferred arms and ammunition through Yerevan airport. Such cooperation comes in reaction to the intelligence coordination and cooperation established between Azerbaijan and Israel, something Iran sees as a threat to its national security.

Apart from the statements made by the Iranian affairs expert, US intelligence reports have revealed that Iran has been supporting Hezbollah with various types of weapons using passenger aircraft. The reports confirmed that two exceptional Iranian Fars Air Qeshm flights have taken off from Beirut International Airport in the past few months.

The first flight was monitored in July, as a passenger Boeing 747 aircraft departed from a military airbase in Tehran, shortly afterwards landing in Damascus before taking an unusual turn towards Beirut's international airport. The second flight, however, was monitored in August.

Fars Air Qeshm is deemed one of the passenger airlines that smuggle weapons on orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Quds Force led by Qasem Suleimani. The Iranian operated airline has come under sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump since October 2017.

Iran and Hezbollah Causalities

The Israeli air strikes on Iranian targets inside Syria targeted intelligence sites operated by the Quds Force and logistic sites affiliated to the Quds Force being an arm of the Revolutionary Guard. The raids also targeted a military and logistics complex affiliated to the Quds Force in al-Kiswah, an Iranian base in Syria north of Damascus, arms warehouses affiliated to the Quds Force in Damascus International Airport, and military sites near the borders.

The heavy casualties inflicted by the constant Israeli air strikes on Iranian and Hezbollah militia were met with a total media blackout and were ignored by the regime itself.

In this regard, Iranian policy observers have confirmed that the casualties Teheran experienced as a result of the air strikes were heavy, particularly given that the Russian-Israeli coordination in targeting Iran and Hezbollah in Syria is undisputed by both sides.

A Syrian politician, Wael Khaldi, Head of Backhome Centre for Counter Terrorism Studies in Paris, has confirmed in statements to the press that Israel has recently targeted five key Iranian sites out of 19 sites. This is apart from the raids launched on an almost daily basis on Syria following the Israeli Prime Minister's recent visit to Russia.


Middle East