Two Boeing 747 Fars Air Qeshm flights smuggled weapons and missile components to Hezbollah in past two months; Iran denies sending missiles to Iraq, claims reports are “false and ridiculous”.
Iran has been smuggling arms and missile components to Hezbollah in Lebanon using a civilian airline.
Reports surfaced on Tuesday from Fox News and Arab media claiming two recent Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah on Fars Air Qeshm flights on a Boeing 747, one in July and one on August 2. The flights, from Tehran to Beirut, had unusual routes that were reported by a “regional source”. The shipments reportedly included missile components and arms.
Iran has used commercial and civilian airlines for arms smuggling to Syria and Lebanon in the past. Qeshm Fars has a history of collaboration with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
According to a Western official to Fox News, a regional, anonymous source provided the intelligence on the Iranians smuggling, likely referring to Israel. The official was quoted stating “The Iranians are trying to come up with new ways and routes to smuggle weapons from Iran to its allies in the Middle East, testing and defying the West’s abilities to track them down.”
Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Iran transferred ballistic missiles to its Shi’ite proxies in Iraq. Sources claim the transfer of short-range ballistic missiles was a “backup plan” if Iran was attacked. The missiles transferred were the Fateh-110, Zelzal and Zolfaqar missiles. The missiles are capable of hitting targets between 200-700 kilometers, a threat to Israel, western Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The reports also claim Iran is looking into domestic missile production in Iraq.
Iran reportedly attempted to deploy the missiles to Syria before their efforts were detected and then sent the missiles to Iraq. Iran, as with most arms smuggling efforts, denied the reports, its Foreign Minister claiming the reports as “false and ridiculous news,” aimed at “affecting Iran’s foreign relations, especially with its neighbors.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu recently addressed regional developments and Israel’s standing in the Middle East. He stated on Thursday “In the Middle East, and in many parts of the world, there is a simple truth: There is no place for the weak. The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive. The strong are respected, and alliances are made with the strong, and in the end peace is made with the strong.”
On Iran’s presence in Syria and threat to Israel, he stated “Whoever tries to hurt us – we hurt them… We are working to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria. We will not relent in pursuit of this goal just as we did not relent in bringing about the cancellation of the bad nuclear agreement with Iran, a goal which was seen as impossible when I put it on the international agenda for the first time several years ago.”
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