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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Israel says Iranian-made missile struck navy ship

JERUSALEM, July 15 (Reuters) - Israel said on Saturday the Lebanese guerrilla group Hizbollah had fired an Iranian-made guided missile at one of its naval ships off Beirut and not hit it with an explosives-laden drone as previously claimed.

A military source said a C802 radar-guided missile with a range of 60 miles (100 km) had been fired at the ship as it sat off the coast on Friday, enforcing a blockade on Lebanon's ports.

Israeli media reported that Hizbollah had said it had hit the ship with a drone packed with explosives.

The missile strike caused substantial damage to the vessel and left four sailors missing. Israel recovered the body of one of the four on Saturday. The ship was towed back to port in Haifa, still smouldering from the attack.

"This is sophisticated weaponry," the Israeli military source said. "This is advanced weaponry that is being supplied by one terrorist state (Iran) to another," he said.

The source said two of the land-to-sea missiles were fired on Friday. The other hit and sank an Egyptian merchant ship, he said. Egypt has not confirmed the loss of a merchant vessel.

Israel believes Hizbollah, a group backed by Iran and Syria, has between 10,000 and 12,000 rockets in its arsenal with a variety of ranges, from around 30 km to 70 km.
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