Hezbollah 'installs Russian defence system' in Syria: report

Hezbollah 'installs Russian defence system' in Syria: report
Hezbollah has deployed Russian defence systems in the Qalmoun Mountains region northwest of Damascus and Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, according to an Israeli report.
2 min read
30 December, 2021
The SA-8 has reportedly been deployed by Hezbollah, according to reports [Getty]

Lebanese group Hezbollah has positioned air defence systems in Syria and Lebanon to deter Israeli airstrikes, an Israeli research group said.

The Shia Muslim political and paramilitary movement has reportedly deployed the air defences to Syria's Qalmoun Mountains region, northwest of the capital Damascus, Israel's Alma Research Center claimed.

The defences were also deployed to the mountainous border of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, a stronghold of Hezbollah. It is known for being the group's recruitment base since its formation in the early 1980s and now functions as Hezbollah's rear base.

Alma claimed that Hezbollah is in now possession of a Russian manufactured SA-8 missile system to defend itself from Israeli airstrikes, which has targeted its fighters in Syria.

It is the first-ever air defence missile system to be completely mobile.

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The Hezbollah arsenal also contains Soviet-era SA-17, and SA-22 BUK missile systems which are designed to counter cruise missiles, smart bombs, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, and drones.

The report comes days after Lebanese President Michel Aoun called for a national dialogue on forming a common defence strategy, which he said was the responsibility of the state alone.

This hinted at frictions with his allies in Hezbollah, who have touted themselves as Lebanon's military protectors and the only militia of the civil war era not to completely disarm.

Israel and Hezbollah, which holds the strongest presence in southern Lebanon, last fought a war in 2006. Skirmishes along the shared border have taken place since that month-long war 15 years ago, with the worst deterioration happening this summer as both sides exchanged fire.

Hezbollah is aiding dictator Bashar Al-Assad in the Syrian civil war, which began when the regime brutally crushed peaceful demonstrations in 2011.

Around 1.2 million Syrians, or one in 18 of the population, are thought to have been arrested or detained at some point in the war.

The Assad regime is notorious for its systematic torture and murder of prisoners, as well as the shelling and bombing of civilian areas and hospitals.