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U.S. officials: Hezbollah upgrades missile threat

JTA

January 3, 2014 | 10:37 am

Hezbollah supporters listen to their leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (unseen) via a screen during a ceremony to mark the death of Hezbollah commander Hasan al-Laqqis in Beirut's southern suburbs on Dec. 20. Photo by Sharif Karim/Reuters

Hezbollah supporters listen to their leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (unseen) via a screen during a ceremony to mark the death of Hezbollah commander Hasan al-Laqqis in Beirut's southern suburbs on Dec. 20. Photo by Sharif Karim/Reuters

Hezbollah operatives are smuggling components of advanced guided missiles from Syria to Lebanon, U.S. officials said.

Operatives from the Shi’ite terrorist group have been moving the components in parts to avoid detection and airstrikes by Israel, unnamed officials told The Wall Street Journal.

As many as 12 guided-missile systems may now be in Hezbollah’s possession inside Syria, according to U.S. officials briefed on the intelligence, the newspaper said.

In addition to aircraft, Hezbollah will be able to target ships and bases with the new systems, which include supersonic Yakhont rockets, the Journal reported Friday.

Such guided weapons would be a major step up from the “dumb” rockets and missiles Hezbollah now has stockpiled, and could sharply increase the group’s ability to deter Israel in any potential new battle, the officials said.

U.S. and Israeli officials also said several strikes last year attributed to Israel stopped shipments of surface-to-air SA-17 anti-aircraft weapons and ground-to-ground Fateh-110 rockets to Hezbollah locations in Lebanon. Some originated from Iran, others from Syria itself.

On Tuesday, Israel conducted its second successful experiment on the Arrow-3 interceptor missile, the Israel Ministry of Defense said in a statement Friday. Arrow-3 is designed to intercept large, longer range missiles as part of Israel’s multilayer interception defense array.

The intercepting missile hit its target over the Mediterranean during a test conducted by the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

“The successful test is a major milestone in the development of the Arrow-3 Weapon System and provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing ballistic missile threat,” the ministry said in a statement.

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