Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Russia providing Hezbollah with weapons in Syria: report

Hezbollah fighters during a rally

Hezbollah commander says Moscow hasn't put any restrictions on how group can use weapons, even against Israel
Russia is providing advanced weaponry to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah,  The Daily Beast reported on Monday.

According to the report, two of the group's field commanders told the United States based news website, the weapons include precision ground-to-ground missiles,
long-range tactical missiles, laser guided rockets, and anti-tank weapons.

The militants, who met with The Daily Beast in the Beirut suburb of Dahiya on two separate occasions, said that the group, the Assad regime and Iran have a "relationship of complete coordination" and that Hezbollah is receiving the arms "with no strings attached."

“We are strategic allies in the Middle East right now—the Russians are our allies and give us weapons,” one of the Hezbollah officers in charge of five units in Syria told The Daily Beast.

The officer, who gave his name as Commander Bakr, said that "the intervention of the Russians made it much easier" for the group, and that the Russians rely on Hezbollah for intelligence and target selection. “Without their air force we can’t advance and they couldn’t give us air support without our information from the ground," he said.

Hezbollah Press Office/AFP
Hezbollah Press Office/AFP
"A Hezbollah fighter patrols the Qalamun hills close to the Lebanese border with Syria"

Another Hezbollah commander said that the Russians are increasingly impressed with Hezbollah fighters rather than those of the Assad regime and that Moscow hasn't put any restrictions on how the group can use the weapons, including against Israel, saying that "when it comes to Israel, Hezbollah doesn’t take directions from anyone."

Nonetheless, the report added that "it is not clear that he is in a senior enough position to know what secret agreements have been made."

Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Israel is reported to have attacked regime military bases on a number of occasions, including raids reportedly targeting Iranian rockets bound for Hezbollah.

In November, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Paris climate talks, where they agreed to deepen and strengthen military cooperation between their two countries.

Al-Manar TV/AFP
Al-Manar TV/AFP
"An image grab taken from Hezbollah's al-Manar TV on December 21, 2015 shows Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon's militant Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah, giving a televised address from an undisclosed location in Lebanon"

Netanyahu went to Moscow in September and later told reporters that an unprecedented and crucial mechanism had been established to prevent misunderstandings and accidental clashes due to Russian operations in Syria.

Also in November Israel's Defense Minister Moshe "Boogie" Ya'alon explained that Israel and Russia had made arrangements to avoid clashes over Syria, with the agreement said to include a "hotline" and information sharing.

"Under the agreements we have with the Russians, they act in accordance with their interests; we act in accordance with our interests; and the one doesn’t bother the other," he said.


No comments:

Post a Comment