Report: Iran uses European ports for arms sent to Hezbollah


Iran is using European ports to “provide cover for shipments of weapons to Hezbollah,” British newspaper The Telegraph has reported.

The Lebanese, Iran-backed group has received missiles and bombs on ships that go on to dock in ports in Belgium, Spain and Italy, The Telegraph quoted sources as saying.

Iran has switched to shipping weapons by sea after Israel’s air force began to target consignments coming in by land into northern Syria via Iraq, the sources said.

Weapons and other goods are now shipped to the Syrian port of Latakia before the vessels go on to ports in Antwerp, Valencia and Ravenna, in an attempt to disguise the purpose of the journeys, the Telegraph reported. From Latakia, the weapons are transported south to Lebanon, it added.

“Using Europe helps to hide the nature and the source of the shipments, switching paperwork and containers… to clean the shipments,” a senior intelligence source in Israel told The Telegraph.

“Europe has huge ports so Iran is using that as a camouflage. It’s very easy to do manipulations in those big ports where things have to get moved quickly, rather than a small port where there will be more scrutiny,” the source said.

“It’s like a cat and mouse between us and the Iranians. They’re trying to smuggle and we’re trying to stop it. It’s been at least three years like this,” the source added.

Ronen Solomon, an independent intelligence analyst based in Israel, said that Iran was also shipping weapons directly to Syria. The use of separate routes via Europe was to “legitimize” their cargo and “distract attention” from those direct shipments, Solomon added.

The port of Latakia was targeted by air strikes in 2021, though these were not claimed by Israel, which rarely confirms operations in Syrian territory.

Since the beginning of the Gaza war in October, five Iranian ships – Daisy, Kashan, Shiba, Arezoo and Azargoun – have unloaded goods in Syria, starting their journey in Bandar Abbas in Iran, according to intelligence handed to Solomon.

“Co-ordinated by Iran’s Quds Force Unit 190, the weapon transfers are then managed by Hezbollah’s Unit 4400, which is responsible for arms shipments,” The Telegraph said.

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