JERUSALEM, Israel – Western intelligence sources told Fox News that Iran is using a civilian airline company to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah, the Islamic Republic's Lebanese-based terror proxy. The sources said Iran is using the airline to supply weapons manufacturing facilities in Lebanon with components to produce advanced weaponry.
Israeli border with Lebanon, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
According to the sources, two flights this summer, one in July and one in August, used circuitous flight paths en route to Beirut's international airport, ostensibly to avoid detection.
Three members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) serve on the board of Qeshm Fars Air, the civilian aviation company transporting weapons to Hezbollah.
On July 9, a Boeing 747 departed from an Iranian air force base, stopping briefly at Syria's international airport in Damascus before taking an "uncharacteristic flight path" across northern Lebanon to land in Beirut.
"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," a local intelligence source told Fox News on condition of anonymity.
A second flight, which took off from Tehran on August 2, flew through Syrian airspace on its way to Beirut.
Both Israeli and the US officials say Iran has weapons manufacturing facilities in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
Since the early 1980s when Iran created Hezbollah, it has funded, trained and provided the group with increasingly advanced weapons to threaten Israel. Following the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, Iran began resupplying the missiles and other weaponry lost during the fighting.
Hezbollah's military infrastructure has increased since this map was declassified
Israel believes the terror group may have accrued up to 150,000 rockets, missiles, mortar shells and other military paraphernalia capable of targeting Israeli population centers.
Hezbollah, which is now an integral part of the Lebanese government and military, sent thousands of soldiers to bolster Syrian President Bashar Assad's military during the seven-year civil war.
On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told reporters Israel is prepared to deal with threats from Iran wherever they are found.
"We are not limiting ourselves only to Syria. We will deal with every Iranian threat no matter where it comes from," Lieberman said in response to a question about Iran supplying ballistic missiles to Shiite militias in Iraq. "Our freedom of action is total."