IDF official: Int’l sanctions on Iran hurt arms flow to Hezbollah

Despite cutbacks, Lebanese militant group still in possession of extensive & advanced arsenal, according to an Israeli military source speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity

 

A top Israeli military official said on Monday that international sanctions against Iran are cutting its flow of aid and weapons to anti-Israel Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

Hezbollah supporters in Beirut, August 17, 2012.

Hezbollah supporters carry pictures of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, disappeared Imam Moussa al-Sadr, center, and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, left, in Beirut – Photo by AP

Even so, he says the Lebanese guerrilla group remains a potent force with an arsenal far larger and of higher quality than it possessed during a month-long war against Israel in 2006.

The official said Hezbollah possessed tens of thousands of rockets and missiles capable of striking deep inside Israel.

Israel has expressed concerns that Syria’s chemical weapons might fall into the hands of Hezbollah as the Syrian civil war deepens. The official said for now, the Syrian government appears to be maintaining control over its chemical weapons arsenals.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity under military rules.

Alluding earlier Monday to military ties between Iran and Hezbollah, an Iranian lawmaker said that Tehran was in possession of pictures of Israeli bases and other restricted areas obtained from a drone that breached Israeli airspace earlier this month and which the Lebanese militant group alleged to have launched.

Earlier this month, the Israel Defense Forces shot down a drone after it flew 55 km into Israel. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the aircraft, saying its parts had been manufactured in Iran and assembled in Lebanon.

The drone transmitted pictures of Israel’s “sensitive bases” before it was shot down, said Esmail Kowsari, chair of parliament’s defense committee, according to Iran’s Mehr news agency. He was speaking to Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Alam, Mehr reported on Monday.

“These aircrafts transmit their pictures online, and right now we possess pictures of restricted areas,” Kowsari was quoted as saying.

Israeli air space is closely monitored by the military and, except for commercial air corridors, is restricted, with special attention paid to numerous military and security installations.

Israeli threats to bomb Iranian nuclear sites if diplomacy and sanctions fail to stop Tehran’s nuclear program are a flashpoint for tensions in the Middle East. The West suspects the program is designed to develop a nuclear weapons capability, something Tehran steadfastly denies.

Iran’s military regularly announces defense and engineering developments though some analysts are skeptical of the reliability of such reports.

On Sunday, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the downed drone did not represent Iran’s latest know-how in drone technology, according to Mehr.

In April, Iran announced it had started to build a copy of a U.S. surveillance drone, the RQ-170 Sentinel, captured last year after it came down near the Afghan border.

View original HAARETZ publication at: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/top-idf-official-international-sanctions-on-iran-hurt-arms-flow-to-hezbollah-1.473037

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