Hezbollah has successfully smuggled parts of an advanced missile system into Lebanon, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. According to U.S. officials, Hezbollah moved the equipment into Lebanon in pieces, managing to avoid discovery by the Israel Air Force and intelligence services.
The U.S. officials believe the Iran-backed militant organization transferred advanced Yakhont anti-ship missiles from Syria into Lebanon- but not the entire Russian-built system.
The officials also believe that during their attempts to move the equipment, Hezbollah disconnected electricity and communications networks in the Syria-Lebanon border area, in an attempt to hamper Israeli intelligence efforts.
According to senior American officials, Hezbollah has large weapons stockpiles in Syria that include surface-to-air missiles. The estimate is that Hezbollah's depots in Syria currently have 12 advanced guided anti-ship missile systems. The Israeli attack on the depots in July achieved only partial results, according to U.S. officials.
Following the Israeli attack on weapons stockpiles on July 5 in Latakia, Israeli and American spy satellites detected Syrian Army forces destroying equipment at a site that was bombed, in order to try and make the Israelis and Americans think they had succeeded in destroying the anti-ship missile launchers.
American intelligence damage control reports determined that Israel had successfully eliminated only part of the target and that some of the Yakhont missiles and launchers were not hit, but rather transferred to another site.
According to the Wall Street Journal report, Israel bombed the Yakhont launchers again on October 30. Israel informed the U.S. that the attack hit some of the missile launchers' components, but that other parts are stuck in depots in Syria.