Hizbullah missile 298.88.
(photo credit: IDF)
A top Revolutionary Guards commander has said Iran is supplying weapons to "liberation armies" in the Middle East, a state-run news agency reported - the first official confirmation the country provides weapons to armed groups in the region.
Gen. Hossein Hamedani, deputy commander of a volunteer militia that is part of the elite Revolutionary Guards, did not provide specific details. But Iran is widely believed to provide weapons to Hizbullah. The US military has also accused Iran of arming Shi'ite militias in Iraq.
"Not only are our armed forces self-sufficient, liberation armies of the region get part of their weapons from us," Borna news quoted Hamedani as saying on its Web site late Sunday.
In the past, Iran - a majority Shi'ite country - has denied arming Hizbullah, saying it only provided political and financial support. The Iranian government has also denied providing weapons or financial support to Shi'ite militants fighting US forces in Iraq.
But the US military has said it has evidence that elements of the Mahdi army, an Iraqi militia loyal to anti-American Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, have been armed by Iran.
Hamedani also said Iran has no shortage of advanced missile systems.
"Our chemical engineers have upgraded Iran's missile capability," he was quoted as saying.
Hamedani didn't elaborate, but Iranian officials have said they successfully tested a solid fuel motor for the medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile, a technological breakthrough for Iran.
Experts say solid fuel increases the accuracy of missiles in reaching targets. But many in the West have expressed doubt about Iran's professed military accomplishments.
Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a US weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and a fighter plane.
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