In Lebanon, Hizbullah Arms Stockpile Bigger, Deadlier

[Los Angeles Times] Sebastian Rotella - Hizbullah now has about 27,000 rockets and missiles, more than double its supply before the 2006 war, Israeli officials say, including Iranian missiles capable of hitting Tel Aviv. "We know without a doubt that the international embargo on the transfer of weapons to Hizbullah has been deliberately violated by the governments of Iran and Syria," said Mark Regev, an Israeli government spokesman. Israeli officials say Hizbullah's most potent weapons include about 500 Iranian Zilzal guided missiles, with ranges of 77, 136 and 186 miles. In addition, Hizbullah has 4,000 to 6,000 Iranian Fajr 3 and Fajr 5 rockets with ranges of 27 and 46 miles, respectively. And Syria has provided an estimated 20,000 rockets. "The Syria-Iran-Hizbullah axis is closer than it has been since 2006," an Israeli security official said. "In operational planning, the Syrians know that Hizbullah is part of their defense architecture. Hizbullah is stronger than before the war. They have improved their antitank capabilities, the number and quality of their rockets." Western security officials say they discovered last year that Iran was procuring telescopic sights for antitank guns and rocket-propelled grenades from an Eastern European country. Communications among Iranian diplomats revealed that the sights were earmarked for Hizbullah, say the officials. Iran also furnished night-vision equipment and binoculars, the officials say. Patrick Haenni, a senior analyst in Lebanon for the International Crisis Group, said, "All the signs on the ground show that Hizbullah is in a concerted phase of preparation, and concentrated on its military reactivation."

2008-05-06 01:00:00

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