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Israel says Iran seeking to build precision missiles in Lebanon


AFP Jerusalem
The Israeli army on Thursday accused Iran of collaborating with Lebanon's Hezbollah to assemble precision-guided missiles that could cause "massive" human casualties in Israel.
Tehran and the Shiite movement plan to convert "stupid rockets into precision-guided missiles", Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told journalists in a conference call.
He said Iran had tried between 2013 and 2015 to transport precision-guided missiles to Hezbollah through war-torn Syria, where both back the Damascus regime.
But that strategy failed due to "Israeli operations", said the army, without elaborating.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.
Conricus said that in 2016, "Iran and Hezbollah changed their strategy... (to one of converting) existing rockets into precision-guided" projectiles.
He accused Tehran of planning to smuggle in the required components.
Conricus estimated that Hezbollah currently has some 130,000 rockets, an arsenal he said does not by itself amount to "accurate" weaponry, even if such projectiles constitute a "threat".
"However if they are able to produce a precision-guided arsenal ... that will create a different and much more dangerous situation," he added.
Conricus accused Hezbollah of being "willing to strike civilians and strategic facilities... in order to create a massive amount of casualties and damage in Israel".
"Hezbollah does not yet have an industrial capability to manufacture precision guided missiles" but continues to work towards that goal, he added.
The allegations come after Hezbollah -- with which Israel has fought several wars -- accused the Jewish state of carrying out a drone attack Sunday on its Beirut stronghold.
Israel's military did not confirm whether it was behind the weekend attack, which saw one drone explode and another crash without detonating.
The Shiite movement's chief Hassan Nasrallah said Sunday that an armed drone had "hit a specific area," without elaborating.
According to the UK's Times newspaper, the drones fell near Iranian installations manufacturing a fuel that is essential to the use of precision missiles.
The Beirut attack came after Israel on Saturday launched strikes in neighbouring Syria to prevent what it said was an Iranian attack on the Jewish state.

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First Published: Aug 29 2019 | 10:35 PM IST

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