An attempt is made to share the truth regarding issues concerning Israel and her right to exist as a Jewish nation. This blog has expanded to present information about radical Islam and its potential impact upon Israel and the West. Yes, I do mix in a bit of opinion from time to time.
officials believe members of Hezbollah, the militant group backed by
Iran, are smuggling advanced, guided-missile systems into Lebanon from
Syria piece by piece to evade a secretive Israeli air campaign designed
to stop them.
moves illustrate how both Hezbollah and Israel are using Syria's civil
war as cover for what increasingly is seen as a complex and high-stakes
race to prepare for another potential conflict—their own—in ways that
could alter the region's military balance.
components of a powerful antiship missile system have already been
moved to Lebanon, according to previously undisclosed intelligence,
while other systems that could target Israeli aircraft, ships and bases
are being stored in expanded weapons depots under Hezbollah control in
Syria, say current and former U.S. officials.
guided weapons would be a major step up from the "dumb" rockets and
missiles Hezbollah now has stockpiled, and could sharply increase the
group's ability to deter Israel in any potential new battle, officials
The movements appear to serve two purposes.
wants to upgrade Hezbollah's arsenal to deter future Israeli
strikes—either on Lebanon or on Iran's nuclear program, U.S. and Israeli
officials say. In addition, these officials said they believe the
transfers were meant to induce Hezbollah to commit to protect Syrian
PresidentBashar al-Assad as well as supply lines used by both his regime
struck inside Syria at least five times in 2013, seeking to take out
systems bound for Hezbollah without provoking a direct confrontation.
and Israeli officials say the airstrikes have stopped shipments of
ground-to-air SA-17 antiaircraft weapons and ground-to-ground Fateh-110
rockets to Hezbollah locations in Lebanon. Some originated from Iran,
others from Syria itself.
as many as 12 antiship guided-missile systems may now be in Hezbollah's
possession inside Syria, according to U.S. officials briefed on the
intelligence. Israel targeted those Russian-made systems in July and
again in October with mixed results, according to U.S. damage
U.S. believes Hezbollah has smuggled at least some components from
those systems into Lebanon within the past year, including supersonic
Yakhont rockets, but that it doesn't yet have all the parts needed
there. "To make it lethal, a system needs to be complete," said a senior
already has around 100,000 rockets, according to Israeli intelligence
estimates, but those are primarily unguided weapons that are less
accurate. Its longer-range rockets are spread across Lebanon, meaning
Israel's next air campaign—should one come—would have to be broad,
Israeli officials have told their U.S. counterparts, according to
American officials in the meetings.
Hezbollah's possession of guided-missile systems would make such an air campaign far riskier.
and former U.S. officials say Iran's elite Quds Force has been directly
overseeing the shipments to Hezbollah warehouses in Syria. These
officials say some of the guided missiles would allow Hezbollah to
defend its strongholds in Lebanon, including Beirut, and attack Israeli
planes and ground targets from regime-controlled territory in Syria.
Iron Dome missile-defense system can intercept and destroy short-range
rockets. Its Arrow missile-defense system can intercept the sort of
long-range ballistic missiles Iran possesses. A third system the
Israelis are developing to deal with midrange guided missiles, called
David's Sling, won't be operational until 2015 at the earliest.
officials say they are content for now to watch enemies No. 1 and No.
2—Hezbollah and Iran on one side, al Qaeda on the other—kill each other
next door. U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Mr. Assad can hold on
to a rump state bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean for the
foreseeable future, but won't be able to retake the entire country, U.S.
is arguably in Israel's interest to exploit the chaos without becoming
embroiled in it," said Steven Simon, executive director of the
International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington and a former
senior Obama administration official.
leaders made clear early on in the Syrian conflict that any transfers
of advanced missile systems or chemical arms to its enemies would cross
Israel's "red line."
the advanced missile and chemical programs are overseen by the same
elite Syrian military-research center, which has close ties to
Hezbollah, according to current and former U.S. officials. Syria agreed
last year to give up its chemical weapons, a process that has yet to be
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemicals Weapons and the United
Nations said last weekend that they would miss a Dec. 31 deadline for
removing the most dangerous weapons because of volatile security
conditions and logistical challenges. No new deadline has been set; the
situation will be reassessed at a meeting of the OPCW's executive board
on Jan. 8.
fighting a monthlong war with Hezbollah in 2006, Israel has ramped up
an eavesdropping network to tap communications among Hezbollah, Iranian
and Syrian regime figures to detect arms shipments, officials said.
officials said alarm bells sounded in late 2012 over a push by Iran to
upgrade Hezbollah's arsenal with advanced guided-missile systems.
and Israeli spy agencies received intelligence that Iranian leaders,
including the commander of the Quds Force,Qasem Soleimani, were
increasingly concerned that the Assad regime was in danger of being
overrun by rebels.
meant Iran's window might have been closing to supply advanced weaponry
to Hezbollah, Gen. Soleimani argued, according to officials briefed on
the intelligence. From Tehran's perspective, Hezbollah's rockets were
their first line of defense against an Israeli strike.
and former U.S. officials said the Assad regime also saw the weapons
transfers as a way to fortify its relationship with Hezbollah, which it
relies upon for survival.
Israeli air force generals pushed for action to block the transfers,
said Israelis familiar with the security deliberations.
take out these systems without crossing into Syrian airspace,
commanders directed Israeli pilots to perform a "lofting" maneuver
designed to extend how far their bombs would travel, said U.S. officials
briefed on the operations.
a burst of speed and altitude, the pilots fling their GPS-guided bombs
from ejector racks in a sweeping arc into Syria. In each case, the
targets would have to be stationary, the officials said.
The first strike, on Jan. 30, targeted a shipment of Russian-made SA-17 antiaircraft missiles, U.S. officials said.
early May, the Israelis tracked a plane they believed was carrying
advanced Fateh-110 rockets from Iran to the Damascus International
Airport, according to the U.S. officials briefed on the operations.
Israel struck starting on May 2, from Lebanese air space.
same month, Israeli and U.S. intelligence agencies began to track the
antiship systems, whose Yakhont missiles can target warships with
precision from over the horizon.
July 5, Israel targeted some of the Yakhonts at a Syrian base outside
the coastal city of Latakia. Afterward, Israeli and U.S. spy satellites
saw something unexpected. Ground forces destroyed military equipment at
the bombing site to try to trick Israel into believing it had
successfully taken out the launchers, officials briefed on the
U.S. damage assessment concluded that Israel had taken out only part of
its target, and that the Yakhont missiles and launchers appeared to
have been moved out of the line of fire. On Oct. 30 Israel targeted them
again, U.S. officials said.
officials have told U.S. counterparts that the strikes damaged some
Yakhont components, while others are stuck in warehouses in Syria.
"We don't think they have all the components in Lebanon to have a complete system," said a senior U.S. defense official.
U.S. officials said they don't know the fate of all of the systems, and
that they are concerned Hezbollah will bring more components into
say supply lines for Hezbollah and the Assad regime have become
increasingly intertwined, making it harder to distinguish between
shipments bound for the Lebanese group and the regime. Israeli Air Force
officials have told their American counterparts that commanders have
aborted several planned airstrikes because of concerns about causing
defense officials said they believe Hezbollah has tried to throw off
Israel's high-tech hunt by switching off and on communications and power
networks along the border.
"Hezbollah is pretty damn good," said a senior U.S. official. "And they are patient."