Iran

Hezbollah Shows Off “Massive” Arsenal of Armored Vehicles in Syria

The Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah showed off its “massive” arsenal of armored vehicles during a “military parade” near the northern Syrian city of al-Qusayr on Sunday, the website al-Masdar News, which is associated with the terror group, reported.

Columns of armored vehicles were visible in photos uploaded to Hezbollah-affiliated social media accounts.

The website also claimed that Hezbollah displayed tanks it claimed to have captured from Israel. The Iranian proxy group did not open the event to residents from nearby towns, citing security concerns.

In June, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader boasted, “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Nasrallah’s acknowledgement of Iranian aid seems to confirm a public assurance given to him in August 2015 by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that the nuclear deal presented “a historic opportunity” to confront Israel. Iran recently announced that its defense spending would increase by 90 percent in the coming year.

According to a July report published by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Israeli officials believe that any future war with Hezbollah has the potential to cause “thousands of civilian deaths” in Israel. Hezbollah has, among other things, threatened to attack ammonium tanks in Haifa, which could kill tens of thousands of people.

The think tank’s vice president for research, Jonathan Schanzer, explained that Hezbollah’s widely-reported tactic of hiding military assets in civilian areas would also lead to mass casualties. Reports emerged two years ago that Hezbollah was offering reduced-price housing to Shi’ite families who allowed the terrorist group to store rocket launchers in their homes. An Israeli defense official told The New York Times in May 2015 that the buildup of Hezbollah’s terror infrastructure in southern Lebanese villages meant that “civilians are living in a military compound” and that their lives were at risk. A few days later, a newspaper linked to Hezbollah bolstered the Israeli assessment.

Nasrallah’s comments also called into question assurances made by Secretary of State John Kerry that the U.S. would ensure that Iran could not arm Hezbollah after lifting nuclear-related sanctions against Tehran. “Our primary embargo is still in place,” Kerry said at a Senate hearing last year. “We are still sanctioning them. And, I might add, for those things that we may want to deal with because of their behavior, for instance, Hezbollah, there is a UN resolution, 1701, the prevents the transfer of any weapons to Hezbollah. That will continue and what we need to do is make sure that we’re enforcing it.”

While UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was passed unanimously to end the 2006 war, forbids the arming of Hezbollah, Iran has continued to send the terrorist group weapons and the Security Council has refused to enforce it.