Russia supports Syria, Iran ramps up support to Hezbollah

"If Hezbollah succeeds in converting these missiles, the new situation would represent a significant risk to Israeli airports, power stations, the Dimona nuclear reactor, and more."

By VICTOR CABRERA/THE MEDIA LINE
October 22, 2018 04:50
2 minute read.
Hizbullah rockets

Hizbullah Rockets 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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Iran reportedly delivered GPS components to Hezbollah in Lebanon that will allow the group to transform rudimentary projectiles into precision-guided missiles, thereby increasing the threat to Israel. Western intelligence services believe Tehran has shifted its strategy by increasingly shipping weaponry directly to its proxy in Beirut, with a view to evading Israeli air strikes.

The Israel Defense Forces has over the past two years conducted hundreds of attacks in Syria to prevent such arms deliveries.

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Meanwhile, Russia last week upped its military support to the Assad regime with the transfer of three S-300PM-2 missile batteries whose radar and communication technologies are more sophisticated than those of the model deployed to Syria at the beginning of the month.

That move, in turn, followed the downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane by Syrian forces, an incident the Kremlin blamed on Israel which minutes before had conducted an aerial operation against an Iranian military installation in Latakia.

“Russia’s delivery of advanced air defense systems to Syria has emboldened Iran to ramp up its shipments of weaponry to Hezbollah,” Meir Litvak, Director of the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University, contended to The Media Line.

"While Israel can deal with the military threat posed by the S-300PM-2," he elaborated, "the problem is that the government does not yet know how the Russians will operate. Will they tell Syrians when an Israeli jet takes off and will they intercept the planes? Until the reaction becomes clear, Israel is limited."

Nevertheless, Jerusalem repeatedly has vowed to continue conducting cross-border missions, both to prevent Tehran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria and to inhibit the Iranians from supplying Hezbollah with arms.

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“Most [of Hezbollah's rockets] are not precise enough, making their potential threat tolerable to Israel," Dr. Litvak continued. "If Hezbollah succeeds in converting these missiles, the new situation would represent a significant risk to Israeli airports, power stations, the Dimona nuclear reactor, and more."

During his speech last month to the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu revealed satellite imagery of three sites in the Lebanese capital where Hezbollah, at the behest of its Iranian masters, allegedly has built underground missile manufacturing facilities. According to analysts, the weapons produced are capable of hitting within a few meters their intended target and can reach almost anywhere in Israel.

Hezbollah has an arsenal of more than 100,000 rockets and missiles, many of them housed in residential areas to protect them from attack.

“The increased Russian presence in Syria and the mounting threats from Lebanon indicate a significant level of danger from a diplomatic point of view,” Jonathan Spyer, a Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, conveyed to The Media Line. “The consolidation of Iranian power in Syria is becoming Israel’s number one priority in the region.”

To this end, Prime Minister Netanyahu is slated to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the near future to discuss the latest developments.

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