Iran-backed Hizbullah strengthens ties with Lebanon, Yemen; Israel IDs missile commander

FPI / July 17, 2019

Hizbullah’s precision missile operations in Lebanon are under the command of an Iranian engineer, an Israeli news outlet reported.

I24 News identified the commander as Majed Naveed, an engineer with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Mount Hermon seen from Mount Bental on Golan Heights.

Lebanon’s leadership, meanwhile, makes no secret of the fact that the partnership between Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Hizbullah is growing stronger.

Naveed is in charge of three Beirut sites and two others in southern Lebanon and the Beka’a Valley where engineers are working to convert Hizbullah surface-to-surface missiles into precision-guided missiles, i24NEWS reported on July 16.

According to the report, the IRGC Air Force engineer is also in frequent contact with a Yemen counterpart. Yemen has become a proving ground for Hizbullah and Iranian missiles fired by Houthi rebels at Saudi Arabia.

Iran-backed Hizbullah has in its arsenal some 100,000 to 150,000 rockets, according to Israel, which has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of airstrikes targeting weapons stores and convoys destined for the Lebanese terror group in Syria, where it fights Iran in support of the Bashar Assad regime.

American diplomats have reportedly by mediating a resolution to the Israeli-Lebanese maritime border dispute, an important step to avoiding another war between these two countries.

But analysts say that Hizbullah’s massive arsenal of missiles and rockets would likely overwhelm Israel’s air defenses.

In Beirut, Lebanese President Michel Aoun declared that Hizbullah plays a “major” and “essential” role in Lebanon’s defense apparatus.

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has referred to the LAF as a “partner” and “pillar” of defense against Israel. Regional analysts say the terror group’s growing partnership with the LAF has alarmed many Lebanese political leaders, especially moderates who seek to free their country’s future from the grip of Iranian influence.

In 2018, Hizbullah won its first majority in Lebanon’s parliament.

In an op-ed published by The Hill, Lt Gen Richard Natonski, former commander of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, and Lt Gen Thomas Trask, former vice commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said Hizbullah’s ability to launch missiles against Israel has significantly improved since their last war in 2006.

“In the initial phases of another war in Lebanon, Israel will be forced to quickly destroy these missile sites, bringing itself into direct contact with troops from the LAF,” Natonski and Trask wrote. “These troops are distinct from Hizbullah, but their uncertain position and sheer proximity is a complicating factor since the United States has been providing aid to the LAF.”

The United States has provided the LAF with $1.7 billion since 2006.

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