The IDF on Thursday revealed details of Hezbollah’s Iranian-backed precision guided missile project, days after drone attacks attributed to Israel targeted a site allegedly used by Hezbollah to manufacture missiles.
The IDF also revealed the identities of four senior Iranian and Hezbollah officials involved in the project. IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said that the program is being led on the Iranian side by Brig. Gen. Muhammad Hussein-Zada Hejazi, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, operating under the direct command of IRGC chief Qassem Soleimani.
IRGC Col. Majid Nuab is the one responsible for the technical aspects of this program. The complicated logistics of transporting the machinery necessary to create these precision guided missiles is managed by IRGC Brig. Gen. Ali Asrar Nuruzi, according to the IDF.
This joint project is being led on the Hezbollah side by Fuad Shukr, a senior member of the terror group, who acts as a close adviser to leader Hassan Nasrallah and is wanted by the United States for his role in the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut, Conricus said.
According to the IDF report, the precision missile project was first launched six years ago, following Iranian transfers of missiles to Lebanon via Syria.
“Between 2013- 2015, under cover of the Syrian civil war, Iran began its efforts to transport ready-to-use precision guided missiles from Iran, via Syria, to the terror organization Hezbollah in Lebanon,” the IDF said.
Efforts by Iran and Hezbollah to build up a precision guided missile force were largely thwarted by attacks attributed to Israel, but the IDF has not taken responsibility for the strikes, while emphasizing that Hezbollah has failed to acquire precision guided missiles.
After 2016 Iran and Hezbollah shifted their strategy from transporting whole precision guided missiles to converting existing rockets into precision guided missiles on Lebanese territory.
The plan was, according to the IDF report, to smuggle precision missile components from Iran to Lebanon, in order to convert ordinary rockets from the SARS Center for Scientific Research in Syria into precision guided missiles.
In order to support the conversion of existing rockets into precision guided missiles, Hezbollah established facilities across Lebanon, including in the capital Beirut.
The IDF said that a precision missile, fired over 62.1 miles (100 km) with driving and directional systems, is capable of hitting a target with a deflection of only a few meters. Between 2013 and 2015, during the Syrian civil war, Iran began to deliver precision missiles to Syria. The missiles are then moved to Lebanon, but some of those attempts have been firmly thwarted by air attacks attributed to Israel according to foreign reports.
As part of a situation assessment by the Shiite terrorist organization and the Revolutionary Guards, in 2016 it was decided to find other ways to get accurate missiles to Lebanon. Shiite terror organizations have begun to improve existing missiles already in Hezbollah warehouses on Lebanese soil by installing driving systems and guidance brought from Syria. Some of those attempts to transfer missile-firing equipment from Syria to Lebanon have been thwarted by Israel, say foreign reports.
In September 2018 Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu unveiled three buildings used by Hezbollah for the missile precision project near Beirut airport. As a result of the exposure and following mysterious strikes on Syria’s convoys to Lebanon, some of which were attributed to Israel, the Iranian-Hezbollah delegation decided to build a missile factory in Lebanon in order to reduce logistical difficulties in moving them from Syria and to dramatically increase the number of precision missiles in the hands of the organization.
The raw materials for precision missile production in Lebanese territory are delivered along three parallel routes: a land route through Mitzna across the Syria/Lebanon border, a maritime route used by ships unloading cargo at the port in Beirut, and an aerial shuttle via civilian aircraft from Tehran military bases to Beirut International Airport.
The IDF says that although Hezbollah is trying to promote the 2016 project, the Shiite terrorist organization has faced many difficulties, and there is nowhere in Lebanon at present where precision guided missiles are manufactured. However, Hezbollah is still trying to establish precision missile plants in Lebanon under the nose of the Lebanese government and administration.
In recent months, the IDF has seen a sharp rise in attempts to establish missile construction sites on Lebanese soil. The most difficult part of converting existing missiles into precision missiles is the mixing of the raw materials, which requires a special machine, to produce the casting for the engine casing.
The IDF says it has identified sites where Hezbollah is trying to build these factories hidden among civilian structures.
The IDF said that it is releasing this information and plans to reveal more intelligence on this Iran-led plot in order to push the Lebanese government and international community to take action to halt this project.
“Iran is endangering Lebanese by trying to produce precision guided missiles on Lebanese soil, using the Lebanese people as human shields,” the IDF Spokesman said.