Report: Iran Arming Hezbollah via Iraq to Avoid IAF Strikes
A Kuwaiti newspaper has reported that Iran and Syria are planning to re-route arms supplies to Hezbollah via an Iraqi airport, in order to evade Israeli interceptions, according to Maariv.
The Al-Siyasiya newspaper, which has expressed support for the Syrian rebel forces, quoted a top Iraqi official in the report on Wednesday. According to the anonymous official, Iran and Assad's forces signed an agreement in front of Iraqi government officials changing the route of weapons supplies to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The agreement stated that weapons would be re-routed through Iraq's national airport; the official claimed that the deal was made to allay fears of intervention from Israel and Western powers.
"The preferred route for arms shipments from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah has always been through the border between Syria and Lebanon," according to the official. "[However], due to recent events, there is concern that arms transfers will be prevented by Israeli Air Force (IAF) planes, which are frequently in the region."
The source claimed that arms transfers via the new route began over two months ago, when officials launched the first attempt to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah through Iraq. The smugglers made their way with the weapons from Baghdad's International Airport to the Beirut-Rafik Hariri International Airport, the source claimed, and then delivered the weapons to Hezbollah armories.
In October, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Jareeda reported that the IAF allegedly hit a weapons convoy from Syria to the terrorist group. The report said that the hit was on a single truck, carrying advanced and long-range missiles. It was the latest in a series of strikes which Israeli leaders hinted were aimed at stopping advanced, "game-changing" weaponry falling into the hands of Hezbollah.
The Shia Islamist group has played a significant role in supporting the Assad regime in Syria, leading to fears it could be "rewarded" in the form of sophisticated weapons, such as anti-aircraft missiles, which could pose a serious threat to Israel.
While the reports remain unconfirmed, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon vowed at the time to make sure that Hezbollah remained cut off from arms suppliers. "We are following the issue," he stated, "and continue to maintain our red lines on Syria - not to allow the transfer of advanced Syrian weapons to hostile hands, especially Hezbollah."