A Kuwaiti newspaper has claimed that Iran established underground weapon-making facilities in Lebanon to help Hezbollah to internally develop its own advanced weaponry.
The al-Jarida newspaper reported yesterday that a deputy head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has disclosed the existence of the underground facilities, which have been operating for the past three months. The report says the factories can produce rockets and missiles with a range of more than 500 kilometres, land-based anti-ship missiles, antitank missiles, armoured vehicles and drones capable of carrying explosives.
The report asserts that the underground facilities were constructed after Israel bombed an Iranian weapons depot in Sudan and several convoys transferring weapons from Syria to Hezbollah during the past several years. The factories in Lebanon have reportedly been built 50 metres underground in order to protect them from Israeli aerial attack.
The facilities produce separate components of weapons, which are then transferred to be assembled into entire weapons elsewhere. The report alleges that Hezbollah has already tested weapons made in the underground facilities during the Syrian civil war, where it fights alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Israel believes that Hezbollah has an arsenal of around 100,000 rockets at its disposal with a range covering all of Israel. Israeli military officials also recently estimated around 10,000 Hezbollah positions, including infrastructure and armaments placed within around 200 villages and towns along the Israeli border.
Yesterday, Israel’s Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz warned that Iran is attempting to increase its influence in Syria to threaten Israel, citing last week’s establishment of an Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia called the “Golan Liberation Brigade”.
Katz said: “The so called ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’ sharpens the threat posed by the presence of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria in general and on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights in particular.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Moscow last week and told Russia’s President Vladimir Putin that Israel would not tolerate an increased Iranian foothold on the Syrian border.