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Iran 'using civilian flights' to smuggle arms to Hizballah

Hizballah is an Iranian-backed militia dominating Lebanese politics [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 September, 2018

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Iran is using civilian aircraft to deliver weapons to its proxies in Lebanon, a report by US news network Fox News has claimed citing intelligence sources.
Iran is using civilian aircraft to deliver weapons to its proxies in Lebanon, a report by US news network Fox News has claimed citing intelligence sources.

The sources told the network that Iran is smuggling weapons to groups like Hizballah using national carriers, including Fars Air Qeshm, by flying them on unusual routes over or around Iraq and Syria, before landing at Lebanon's only working airport in Beirut.

"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," the unnamed intelligence source told Fox News.

According to Fox News, one of the flights departed on 9 July from an air force base in Tehran, stopped for a short layover at the international airport in Damascus, continuing with a rather "uncharacteristic flight path" to the Beirut international airport.

The second unusual flight was conducted on 2 August, which departed Tehran's international airport, flight number QFZ9960 then landed in Beirut at 5:59pm, following an irregular route north of Syria.

Fars Air Qeshm is believed to be one of several supposedly civilian airlines that Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps uses to smuggle weapons, according to the report.



Smuggling weapons to Lebanon, even with the consent of the authorities in Beirut, would contravene UN Security Council resolutions restricting arm flow to Lebanese non-state actors as well as Iranian arms exports.

These allegations are not new, and have been denied in the past by Tehran. 

The sources did not specify the nature of the alleged payload, but Hizballah's main arsenal in Lebanon consists of Iranian-made missiles.

Last week, the Reuters news agency reported that Iran had transferred short-range ballistic missiles to its Shia allies inside Iraq in recent months.

The Iranian missiles in question could put Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh or Tel Aviv within striking distance if the weapons were deployed in southern or western Iraq.

The move, which Iraq has since denied, has prompted Israel to issue a rare threat to target Iranian assets in Iraq on Monday.

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