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Per individuals acquainted with Hezbollah’s arsenal, strong Russian anti-ship missiles purchased by the group provide it with the means to carry out its leader’s disguised threat against US warships and highlight the dire hazards of any regional war.

Last week, Hezbollah commander Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah cautioned Washington that the organisation had something in store for US ships stationed in the region following the outbreak of war a month ago between the Palestinian party Hamas and Israel, which shook the wider Middle East.

Missiles
Image for representation purpose only

Per two individuals based in Lebanon who are acquainted with Hezbollah’s arsenal, he was alluding to the group’s considerably upgraded anti-ship missile capabilities, which include the Russian Yakhont missile with a range of 300 km.

According to media and analysts, Hezbollah obtained Yakhont missiles in Syria upon deploying there over a decade ago to assist President Bashar al-Assad in fighting a civil war. Hezbollah has never admitted to having the weapon.

When contacted for comment on this article, the Shi’ite squad’s media office did not react promptly.

Washington claims that its Mediterranean naval presence, which includes two aircraft carriers and supporting ships, is intended to dissuade Iran, which supports groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Given their ability to strike the organisation and its allies, Hezbollah sees the US battleships as a direct danger.

In a speech on Friday, Nasrallah stated that US battleships in the Mediterranean cannot scare them and will not scare them.

They have prepared for fleets with which they get threatened, he went on to say.

Following Nasrallah’s Friday statement, the White House stated that Hezbollah shouldn’t take advantage of the Hamas-Israel confrontation and that the US does not want the conflict to spill over into Lebanon.

Based on one of the sources, Hezbollah’s anti-ship capabilities have grown dramatically since 2006, when the group displayed its ability to strike a vessel at sea by striking an Israeli destroyer in the Mediterranean during a fight with Israel.

There’s Yakhont and other things besides it, the insider stated without going into further detail.

The use of such a weapon by Hezbollah upon hostile warships, according to the source, would signify that the situation has evolved into an extensive regional war.

PAYING SPECIAL ATTENTION

As reported by three current and one former US official, Hezbollah has developed an outstanding arsenal of weaponry, including anti-ship missiles.

They are paying a great deal of attention to that and taking whatever capabilities they may have seriously, one official added, without specifically addressing whether the organisation has the Yakhont rocket.

The officials discussed anonymously to speak openly of Hezbollah’s capabilities.

Per US authorities, the US naval strength recently sent to the region involves defenses for incoming missiles. They didn’t go into detail.

The Pentagon has sent battleships to the eastern Mediterranean from October 7, when Hamas terrorists assaulted Israel from the Gaza Strip, killing 1,400 people, according to Israel.

Palestinian sources reveal that Israeli attacks on Gaza have killed over 10,000 Palestinians since then.

Nasrallah cautioned Washington on Friday that stopping the Israeli onslaught was critical to avoiding a regional war. Since October 8, Hezbollah has been exchanging fire with the Israeli forces along the Lebanese border. This is the most severe escalation since the war began in 2006.

However, Hezbollah has deployed a certain portion of weaponry thus far, and the fighting has primarily been limited to the border area.

Other Iran-aligned groups, such as Yemen’s Houthis, have also shot drones at Israel, while Shi’ite Muslim militias backed by Iran have fired on US forces in both Syria and Iraq.

In accordance with a report by Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (abbreviated CSIS), the ground-introduced Yakhont approaches its target at a low altitude — 10 to 15 meters (yards) above the ground — to escape detection.

A report by CSIS suggests that the Yakhont missile, a derivative of the P-800 Oniks missile first created in 1993, was built in 1999 for export by a Russia-based defence firm and may be launched from the air, ground, or submarines.

When asked about the sources’ claims that Hezbollah had obtained Yakhont missiles, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov replied, First of all, this is unverified news without any confirmation. Secondly, they do not have any information.

READY AND PREPARED

Nasrallah’s Friday speech was one of his strongest warnings to the US, which holds his group accountable for a suicide attack that destroyed the US Marines headquarters at Beirut back in 1983, assassinating 241 servicemen, as well as a suicide attack on the US embassy that same year, killing 63 people.

While Hezbollah has already claimed responsibility for the assaults, Nasrallah has alluded to them in his speech implicitly, saying individuals who beat the US in Lebanon at the beginning of the 1980s were “still alive.”

In remarks aired last month on his private YouTube channel, Nasser Qandil, a Lebanese political specialist close to Hezbollah, outlined how the group’s Yakhont missiles could be used against US vessels.

He called the missile the greatest prize” of Hezbollah’s role in Syria’s civil war, where the group assisted in turning the tide in Assad’s favour. Hezbollah is all set, stated Qandil.

In the words of two people who spoke to Reuters, Hezbollah got the weapon while fighting in Syria in favour of Assad, whose force has long been supported by Russia.

Hezbollah maintains its stockpile and the sources of its weapons under wraps. Nasrallah detailed how the group received Russian Kornet anti-tank missiles through Syria in rare statements on the subject in 2021.

In a conversation with the Iran-aligned Lebanese television al-Mayadeen, he stated that the Syrian defence ministry bought the weapons from Russia primarily for Syrian use. Still, Hezbollah later took them as “support” for defending Lebanon.

During the 2006 war, Hezbollah made considerable use of the weapon.

In 2010, Moscow announced a deal to deploy anti-ship cruise missiles, notably a Yakhont variant, to Damascus.

Reference- TBS News

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