New Hezbollah arms, training jeopardize Israel's aerial supremacy: report
March 19, 2012 11:55 AM The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Hundreds of Hezbollah fighters have been receiving training in the use of advanced anti-aircraft weapons in Syria and Iran in recent months, an Israeli newspaper reported over the weekend, in a development the Israeli military says could jeopardize the Jewish state’s aerial supremacy.
Haaretz reported Sunday that a senior officer in Israel’s Northern Command said hundreds of Hezbollah fighters were being taught to use surface-to-air missiles in Syria and Iran.
Hezbollah declined comment when contacted by The Daily Star Monday.
Haaretz, which in January reported concerns by the Israeli army of possible future chemical weapons transfers from Syria to Hezbollah, said Israeli army officers were also concerned about the transfer to Hezbollah of huge quantities of surface-to-air missiles. The Israelis suspect that the transfers take place from Iran through Syria to Hezbollah.
"We will have to find answers to the transfer of anti-aircraft weaponry, and chemical and biological weapons. It could be a cause to change Israel's retaliation policy," the senior officer told Haaretz.
"The potential of escalation in Lebanon is huge, and Hezbollah continues to strengthen [itself] with regard to long-range weaponry and potential 'surprises' on the battlefield," the source said.
The source said that arms transfers from Syria to Hezbollah would likely increase as President Bashar Assad loses his grip on power.
"The more Assad loses his grip, the [more] transfers will increase," the officer said, adding, "We're troubled by the transfer of strategic components from Syria to Lebanon, and if that happens, it might be cause for a more active response.”
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