Iran is smuggling weapons to Hezbollah on commercial flights, taking “unexpected routes” to conceal the activity.
Iran is utilizing civilian airlines to transport weapons to the Hezbollah terror organization in Lebanon, intelligence sources say.
A Fox News report Monday quoted Western intelligence sources who have uncovered “unexpected routes” taken by Iran in an apparent attempt to avoid detection of its arms-smuggling into Lebanon.
The sources identified two rare and unusual Qeshm Fars Air flights from Tehran to the international airport in Beirut over the past two months.
The first flight in July departed from an air force base in Tehran, stopped for a short layover at the international airport in Damascus and then continued with a rather “uncharacteristic flight path” to the Beirut international airport, the sources said.
The route passed over northern Lebanon, not following any commonly used flight path.
The plane carried components for manufacturing precise weapons in Iranian factories inside Lebanon. The US and Israel have already exposed Iran’s weapons factories in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.
The second flight in August landed in Beirut after departing Tehran’s international airport. This flight also followed a slightly irregular route north of Syria.
“The Iranians are trying to come up with new ways and routes to smuggle weapons from Iran to its allies in the Middle East, testing and defying the West’s abilities to track them down,” the source told Fox News.
Qeshm Fars Air is considered one of the various pseudo-civilian airlines used for arms-smuggling by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the report noted.
Blatant violation of Security Council resolutions
Israel has long warned that Iran is taking advantage of civilian airlines to arm Hezbollah.
In November 2016, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Danny Danon warned the Security Council that Iran was utilizing civilian airlines to transport weapons to Hezbollah.
In a letter to the Council, Danon said it was the IRGC that was responsible for the smuggling, and he outlined how they were doing it.
“Iran is using airlines such as ‘Mahan Air’ to supply Hezbollah with the capacity to enhance its missile arsenal. The arms and related materials are packed in suitcases by the Quds Force in Iran and transferred directly to Hezbollah operatives,” he wrote.
Danon charged that Iran’s actions are “in blatant violation of numerous Security Council resolutions,” including resolutions 2231 and 1701.
Resolution 2231 endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement and added more restrictions on Iran, while resolution 1701 put in place the ceasefire ending the Second Lebanon War with Hezbollah.
Hezbollah was in possession of roughly 7,000 rockets in 2006, and the Lebanese terror group now has more than 120,000 missiles aimed at Israeli cities, hidden behind human shields in the towns under their control.