Hamas Leader Admits Hundreds of Fighters Have Traveled to Tehran

[Sunday Times-UK] Marie Colvin - Israel has long insisted that Iran is behind the training of Hamas forces in Gaza. Last week Yuval Diskin, the head of the Israeli internal security service Shin Bet, said as much when he claimed that Hamas had "started to dispatch people to Iran, tens and a promise of hundreds." A senior Hamas commander confirmed for the first time that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has been training its men in Tehran for more than two years and is currently honing the skills of 150 fighters. The details he gave suggested that, if anything, Shin Bet has underestimated the extent of Iran's influence on Hamas' increasingly sophisticated tactics and weaponry. The commander said Hamas had been sending fighters to Iran for training in both field tactics and weapons technology since Israeli troops pulled out of Gaza in 2005. Others go to Syria for more basic training. "We have sent seven 'courses' of our fighters to Iran," he said. They first traveled to Egypt, flew to Syria, and then to Tehran. According to the commander, a further 650 Hamas fighters have trained in Syria under instructors who learned their techniques in Iran. Sixty-two are in Syria now. He said the Hamas military, which numbers about 15,000 fighters, was modeling itself on Hizbullah.

2008-03-10 01:00:00

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