Report: Russia directly arming Hezbollah with advanced weapons

According to a report in The Daily Beast, Hezbollah is being supplied by Russia with advanced weapons, which clearly can be used against Israel.

By: Atara Beck, World Israel News

Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. (AP/Mohammed Zaatari)

Russia is reportedly directly arming the Hezbollah terror organization in Lebanon with advanced weapons, and is coordinating operations with it as both forces fight in the civil war in Syria.

The Daily Beast published a report on Tuesday in which it quotes Hezbollah field commanders with troops fighting in Syria who told them they are receiving long-range tactical missiles, laser guided rockets, and anti-tank weapons directly from Russia “with no strings attached.”

“The commanders say there is a relationship of complete coordination between the Assad regime in Damascus, Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia. At the same time they say the direct interdependence between Russia and Hezbollah is increasing,” The Daily Beast reported.

The Daily Beast met the commanders on separate occasions at the end of December and the beginning of this year in the Dahiya, Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut.

“We are strategic allies in the Middle East right now — the Russians are our allies and give us weapons,” one of the Hezbollah officers who chose to call himself Commander Bakr, told The Daily Beast. He is in charge of five units in Syria, around 200 troops.

The other commander, “Assir,” a Hezbollah recruiter and trainer who also commands a Special Forces unit that fights in Syria, says the Russians are increasingly impressed with Hezbollah and rely on it, rather than the Syrian military, to guard Russian arms depots inside Syria. Assir added that Hezbollah has extensive access to what’s inside those depots.

“Hezbollah is teaching the Syrian army how to use many of these new weapons,” Assir told The Daily Beast. He maintains that Moscow hasn’t placed any restriction on how Hezbollah can use the Russian arms in its possession, including against Israel if the organization deems it necessary. “When it comes to Israel, Hezbollah doesn’t take directions from anyone,” he said.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut in 2014 to discuss regional developments. Last November, Bogdanov issued a statement making clear that Russia does not consider the organization a terrorist group.

Russian officials did not respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment about having troops on the ground in Syria or their relationship with Hezbollah. Hezbollah likewise declined to comment.

Israel has repeatedly warned that a scenario in which Russia arms Hezbollah, to Israel’s detriment, is not acceptable to the Jewish State.

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Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said in November that Israel will not allow Hezbollah to obtain sophisticated Russian military equipment in Syria.

“We have something to say on this matter. We have no intention of giving up our freedom to act and defend our clear red lines, not allowing the transfer of advanced weapon systems to Hezbollah, certainly not chemical weapons,” Ya’alon said.

His comments came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had reached an understanding with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to prevent accidental conflict between the two countries. Israel has reportedly periodically attacked Hezbollah targets within Syria.