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Syria funnels ballistic arms to Hezbollah (16/7/2011)

'Syria funnels ballistic arms to Hezbollah'
The Courier-Mail 16/7/2011

Lebanese Hezbollah militants now likely rank as the most powerful non-state military force in the word.

DAMASCUS: Syria had accelerated its supply of weapons, including advanced ballistic missiles, to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, The Times reported yesterday.

The move could further inflame an already destabilised region. According to intelligence sources in the West and the Middle East, the current unrest facing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not halted its build-up of military hardware.

With the help of experts from Iran and North Korea, Damascus is pressing ahead with its development of sophisticated missiles at a secret site nicknamed Missile City built into Jebel Taqsis, a mountain near the opposition stronghold of Hama.

The missile program is allegedly run by the Scientific Studies and Research Centre in Damascus, an organisation that is already on a US sanctions list.

With financial and political support from Iran, the Syrians have also stepped up their military assistance to Hezbollah, which must now rank as the most powerful non-state military force in the world.

The Times reported last year that Hezbollah had taken delivery of two advanced Scud-D surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 700km. Since then the Syrians have handed over eight more of the ballistic weapons, which have been assembled with the help of North Korean experts.

The projectiles, which carry one-tonne warheads, are accurate to within tens of metres and bring all of Israel, Jordan and large parts of Turkey within Hezbollah's range.

The militia has also been given M600s — surface-to-surface missiles based on the Iranian Fateh-110 — with a range of 250km and 500kg war-heads.

A new reality has dawned, according to an intelligence report cited by The Times. This is the first time that a terror organisation has obtained a missile of this type, which is considered strategic.

Israeli military intelligence also confirmed that Hezbollah was engaged in a serious arms build-up.

"They moved some weapons before the uprisings in Syria, when the situation in Egypt was starting. But now that they see Syria as possibly unstable we are seeing the movement of a lot of weapons into Lebanon," an Israeli military intelligence source said."We have never had a more quiet border with Lebanon but the threat from there has never been greater."— NewsCore