Iranian Commando Unit Allegedly Operating in South Lebanon
Small groups of elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards, known as Pasdaran, have infiltrated south Lebanon and are preparing for rocket attacks on Israel, the British Sunday Times newspaper reported Sunday.
Allegations of the Iranian presence were confirmed when a Pasdaran soldier defected to Israel last week demanding political asylum, the newspaper said, cited by the Lebanese Daily Star.
According to the UK paper, his reasons for fleeing are unclear, and the Israeli authorities have refused to give details of his interrogation. But the defector, identified by his surname of Mehrabi, is understood to have confirmed that the Pasdaran unit is operational, it said.
An Israeli intelligence source was quoted as saying that the 240mm rockets, known as Fajr 5, with a range of 70 kilometers, were “strategic weapons to deter Israel from launching a large-scale military onslaught against the Palestinians.”
He feared, said the Sunday Times, they could be used if Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon carried out a threat to bring down Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s authority.
Reports of Iranian soldiers manning long-range rockets in Lebanon have been aired regularly since February 2000.
On Tuesday, Israel charged that Iran was setting up an international terrorist network in Lebanon, with the approval of Beirut's powerbroker Syria, to arm the Shiite movement Hizbollah and destabilize the Middle East.
"Iran is establishing a consortium of international terrorism in Lebanon with region-wide implications," said Dore Gold, a top adviser to Sharon and former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.
He told AFP that Tehran's Islamic clerical regime now had missiles on Lebanese territory that were pointed at Israel and under the "command-and-control" of Iranian forces.
He also repeated charges that Iran was regularly supplying arms to Lebanese Hizbollah fighters, who have vowed to continue the armed fight against the Jewish state until Israel pulls out of the occupied Shabaa Farms border area.
"Iranian cargo aircraft land at Damascus international airport from where weaponry is shipped to the Bekaa valley in eastern Lebanon and supplied to Hizbollah," Gold said – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)