The Iranian Revolutionary Guards have built a number of weapons production factories in Lebanon and handed them over to Hezbollah, which has been running the production lines for the past three months, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida recently reported.
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The Kuwaiti newspaper quotes an anonymous source as saying that these plants can produce different types of rockets and missiles, including those with a range of more than 500 kilometers, land-based anti-ship missiles, antitank missiles, armored vehicles and drones that can carry explosives. According to the report, Hezbollah has tested some of these weapons in the Syrian civil war and they have proven successful.
According to the report, this Iranian activity is in response to the bombardment of a weapons factory in Sudan and convoys carrying weapons to Hezbollah, both of which have been attributed to Israel. Instead of transferring finished weapons to the group in Lebanon, the Iranians have set up factories there that can make various components of the rockets and other weapons. To prevent Israel from attacking these production lines, the factories have been built underground (the newspaper says more than 50 meters underground) and no factory produces entire weapons, but only specific parts, which are later assembled.
Hezbollah and Hamas already have precision missiles of various types, and the Israel Defense Forces has taken to describing Hezbollah as a military organization rather than a guerilla group. But the threat is certainly intensified if there is technological knowledge and a production line through which Hezbollah could continue to add missiles to its arsenal without having to rely on transfers from abroad. Moreover, the group could also develop and upgrade the weapons it is making, by developing a bigger warhead or increasing the missiles’ range.
Hezbollah also has a large arsenal of rockets, 10 times as many as it had during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. It has tens of thousands of rockets with a range of 45 kilometers, thousands with ranges of up to 250 kilometers and several hundred rockets of longer ranges.
In recent years the defense establishment has described the acquisition of precision missiles by terror groups as a “the most significant threat.” If these Iranian-built factories are indeed producing precision missiles, this would be added to the map of serious threats.
In the past Al-Jarida has served as a kind of clearinghouse for reports actually originating in Israel. In the Arab world, Al-Jarida is considered a propaganda mouthpiece for Israel, used to convey messages to neighboring Lebanon and Syria. Lebanese commentators claim that the newspaper even has Israel’s financial backing.
The newspaper notes this new information is embarrassing to the Lebanese government since it constitutes a blatant violation of Lebanese sovereignty.
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he had stressed in his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow that Israel would object to any settlement that left Iran or any of its satellites permanently in Syria, for a deal to end the country's civil war.
"I made this clear and I think the message was internalized," Netanyahu told reporters in a telephone briefing before his plane took off from Moscow back to Israel.