Iran is sending arms contraband to the Lebanese Shi’ite Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah through a commercial civilian airline, according to a report by the U.S.-based Fox News, which cites Western intelligence sources.
According to the report, the shipment includes weapons and components for the manufacture of precision weapons in the factories that Iran has installed in Lebanese territory.
According to the report, two Fars Air Qeshm aircraft flew from Tehran to Beirut on an irregular route. On July 9, a Boeing 747 made a stop in Damascus, Syria. The second flight, on Aug. 4, took a “slightly irregular route north of Syria” on the direct route between Tehran and Beirut, Fox News reported.
Fars Air Qeshm airline is vaguely controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the U.S. channel says.
Fars Air Qeshm aircraft in Tehran Photo: Hansueli Krapf Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0
“The Iranians are trying to find new ways and means to smuggle weapons from Iran to their allies in the Middle East, testing and challenging the West’s ability to track them,” a regional intelligence official told Fox News.
In 2016, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, sent a letter to the Security Council denouncing that Iran was using civilian airlines to supply weapons to terrorists.
Since the 1980s, Iran has been providing Hezbollah with weapons and missiles from a variety of sources and helping to fund its extensive social assistance program in southern Lebanon. Tehran has been using the group to attack American and Israeli targets.
Hezbollah has become the main threat to Israel in the region, with an arsenal of between 100,000 and 150,000 missiles, rockets, and mortar shells. Israeli and Western intelligence sources indicate that Iran is assisting Hezbollah to manufacture precision-guided missiles on Lebanese territory in order for the organization to improve its capabilities to mount a more successful attack on Israel.
Today, Hezbollah is deeply embroiled in the Syrian civil war, against the largely Sunni rebels, and in defence of the regime of Syrian Alawite President Bashar al-Assad, in alliance with Iranian forces and Iraqi, Pakistani and Afghan Shiite militias.