Iran

Report: Hezbollah Doubles Down on Support for Assad, Building Fortified Base in Syria

Hezbollah is building a fortified base in Syria, the global intelligence company Stratfor reported Wednesday.

The site lies near the border city of Qusayr, which Hezbollah, along with the Syrian army and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), captured from Syrian opposition forces in June 2013. “According to one source close to Hezbollah, the group intends to stockpile artillery weapons [there],” Stratford reported. “It also plans to move some of its approximately 60 T-72 main battle tanks there.”

The site is also reportedly being used to stockpile Shabab-1, Shabab-2, and Fateh-110 missiles, Iranian-manufactured ballistic missiles with ranges of between 200 and 1000 kilometers, putting all of Israel within range. Stratfor added that the base, which is already a hub of IRGC activity, “could also serve as a location for interaction and training between IRGC and Hezbollah operatives,” noting that Hezbollah has dug tunnels between the site and Lebanon.

Last year IHS Jane’s reported that Hezbollah appeared to be building a drone base across the border from Qusayr in Lebanon.

Hezbollah has also been busy building up its military infrastructure in southern Lebanon, mostly within civilian areas. At a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing last month, Foundation for Defense of Democracies research fellow Tony Badran said that in building this infrastructure, “Hezbollah has essentially painted a big target on the back of all of Lebanon.” Badran continued that the placement of more missiles in southern Lebanon “as well as Hezbollah’s entrenchment in Syria and its expansion into the Golan along with the IRGC, creates a situation for Israel that will…accelerate upcoming future conflict which…is going to be far bloodier than we’ve ever seen on both sides.”

Israeli officials have warned that by moving most of its military infrastructure into Shiite villages in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah is placing Lebanese civilians at risk and using them as human shields. “At the end of the day, it means that many, many Lebanese will be killed,” former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror told reporters. In January 2015, an airstrike, thought to have been carried out by Israel, hit a convoy carrying high-ranking Hezbollah and Iranian military officials, killing Hezbollah commander Jihad Mughniyeh and IRGC General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, who were working to build terror infrastructure in the Golan Heights.

[Photo: AFP news agency / YouTube ]