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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Iran to supply Hezbollah with surface-to-air missiles: report

Tue, 8 Aug 2006, 00:27

London: Iran will supply Hezbollah with surface-to-air missile systems in the coming months, boosting the guerrillas' defences against Israeli aircraft, according to a report by specialist magazine Jane's Defence Weekly on Friday, citing unnamed Western diplomatic sources.

In a meeting, held late last month, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim militia called on Tehran to "accelerate and extend the scope of weapon shipments from Iran to the Islamic Resistance, particularly advanced missiles against ground and air targets."

Hezbollah's representatives pressed for "an array of more advanced weaponry, including more advanced SAM (surface-to-air missile) systems," Jane's said.

"Iranian authorities conveyed a message to the Hezbollah leadership that their forces would continue to receive a steady supply of weapons systems,"it added.

"The details coming from the meeting reveal that they are about ensuring a constant supply of weapons to support Islamic Resistance operations against Israel," said Robin Hughes, the magazine's Middle East Editor.

"We are told the latest meeting was attended by senior representatives of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' Qods force which is responsible for training and logistic support for Iranian-backed insurgent groups."

According to Jane's Defence Weekly, Iranian authorities have supplied the militia with Iranian-made Noor radar-guided anti-ship cruise missiles and Chinese QW-1 (Vanguard) shoulder-launched SAMs.

Russian-made SAMs will reportedly be supplied at a later date.

Hezbollah has been locked in a more than three-week long deadly conflict against Israel since it kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others on July 12.

Israel has carried out a widespread bombing campaign of southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah is based, and Hezbollah has fired rockets into northern Israel.

A Hezbollah anti-ship missile also damaged an Israeli corvette off the Lebanese coast in the early days of the conflict, killing four sailors. Israel said the missile was Iranian-built but Tehran denied involvement.

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