U.S. and Western intelligence officials believe Iran has intensified its advanced weaponry shipments to the Lebanon-based terrorist organization Hezbollah, Fox News reported on Friday.
Recent shipments included GPS components which are meant to upgrade unguided rockets into precision-guided missiles, the report said. Officials told Fox a flight carrying one of the shipments arrived in Lebanon three days ago.
Fox used the Flightradar24 software, which tracks flight data, to identify one of the flights. The Fars Air Qeshm flight departed from Tehran and flew to an unknown destination, according to the flight data. It later landed in Damascus before proceeding to Lebanon several hours after.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed a secret Iranian nuclear storage facility in Tehran and hidden missiles in Beirut during his address at the United Nations' General Assembly session in September.
- Iran smuggling weapons to Hezbollah via civilian airline, report says
- U.S. Senate approves two bills sanctioning Hezbollah
- Iran says range of land-to-sea missiles extended to 700 kilometers
"Hezbollah is using the innocent people of Beirut as human shields," Netanyahu said, showing a picture of a missile site underneath a soccer stadium.
Lebanon dismissed Netanyahu's charges, with Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil saying earlier this month that Israel was seeking to "justify another aggression" with false allegations of missile sites belonging to Hezbollah.
Bassil convened foreign ambassadors to respond to Netanyahu's claims and planned to take them on a tour of at least one of the locations in Beirut.
Netanyahu called the foreign ambassador tour "a futile campaign," saying that Bassil refrained from taking the ambassadors "to the underground missile manufacturing plant which is located underground."
"The ambassadors should ask themselves why they had to wait three days before carrying out the tour. As a matter of course, Hezbollah is careful to clean up the area at the sites that were uncovered," Netanyahu said.
Last month, Fox News reported that an Iranian civilian airline is thought to have smuggled weapons into Lebanon for use by Hezbollah and Iranian weapons factories, citing Western intelligence sources.
The sources pointed to two Qeshm Fars Air flights from Tehran to Beirut that took unusual routes in the past two months. The first was a July 9 flight that stopped in Damascus passed over northern Lebanon, which intelligence sources told Fox carried components for producing precision weapons. The second was an August 2 flight that took a "slightly irregular route" north of Syria.
"The Iranians are trying to come up with new ways and routes to smuggle weapons from Iran to its allies in the Middle East, testing and defying the West’s abilities to track them down," the report quoted a regional intelligence source as saying.