Hezballah planning attacks on Israel from bases in Syria now

Long War Journal:
Hezbollah intends to wage its next war against Israel from deep within Syria, according to a report on a pro-Hezbollah news site last week.

The report, found on the web site Ya Sour, quoted Hezbollah sources saying the group intends to fire long-range projectiles at the Jewish state from the Qalamoun and Anti-Lebanon Mountain ranges, areas firmly under the Shiite group’s control on both the Syrian and Lebanese sides of the border.

There is reason to suspect that Hezbollah has indeed built up a missile arsenal in those areas, particularly as the city of Baalbek, the heartland of its Beqaa Valley stronghold, lies nearby. Israeli airstrikes against the group in Syria have been concentrated in Qalamoun. Moreover, a spokesman for the opposition’s Syrian National Salvation Front, named Fahd al-Masri, said in Dec. 2016 that Hezbollah was nearing completion of a tunnel in the Zabadani valley linking these two areas. Hezbollah seeks to facilitate the transfer of weapons and “reinforce its presence in the strategically important areas” in the western Damascus countryside, which includes Qalamoun, according to al-Masri.

Earlier in 2016, satellite images revealed a Hezbollah weapons warehouse slightly north of that area in Qusayr, where the group reportedly housed Katyusha rockets, mortars and howitzers. Reports also claimed Hezbollah was storing longer-range, Iranian-produced ballistic missiles there, including the Shahab-1, Shahab-2 and Fateh-110/M-600, which the organization could use to strike Israel. Intelligence has long suspected that Hezbollah possesses these missiles, but that has not been confirmed.

The Hezbollah sources told Ya Sour that the group was shifting its missile operations to the Qalamoun and Anti-Lebanon Mountain range because it would be easier “to camouflage the rockets and protect their storehouses and launchers from the danger of Israeli military planes.” They added that the Qalamoun’s vast expanses made the region ideal for easily and safely firing long-range ballistic missiles at Israel.

This latest report coincides with others that Hezbollah has transferred its longer-range rockets to Syria as part of a restructuring of its forces, as they require launching pads too large to be hidden in Lebanon from Israel’s aerial surveillance.
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This probably explains the recent attacks by Israeli aircraft in Syria and also gives some reason to believe that the use of the arrow missile defense system against the anti-aircraft attack was both a system check and a message to Hezballah that its plan would not be effective.  Israel also has missiles that can attack these sites and not have to worry too much about collateral damage.

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