The Independent Arabic network quoted two informed sources that the Russian anti-ship missile arsenal of Hezbollah allows it to carry out the hidden threat launched by its leader Hassan Nasrallah in his recent speech against the American warships, and highlights the serious risks of any war in the region.
“Last week, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned Washington that his group had something to hide for U.S. ships deployed in the region, since the outbreak of war last month between Hamas and Israel, which has been rocking the wider Middle East.”
Nasrallah said in a speech last Friday that US warships in the Mediterranean “do not scare us, and never feared us”, “Your fleets that you threaten us with, we have prepared their tools for them as well”.
The two knowledgeable sources in Lebanon said that Nasrallah was referring to the group’s heavily strengthened anti-ship missile capabilities, which include the Russian Yakhont missile, which has a range of 300 kilometers.
One source said that Hezbollah‘s anti-ship capabilities have developed significantly since 2006, when the group first demonstrated its ability to strike a ship at sea by hitting an Israeli warship in the Mediterranean during its war with Israel.
“There is (Yakhont), and of course there are other things on his side,” the source added, without elaborating.
He said that Hezbollah‘s use of this weapon to target enemy warships would signal the transformation of the conflict into a major war in the region.
Media and analysts have reported for years that Iran-backed Hezbollah acquired Yakhont missiles in Syria after deploying its fighters there more than ten years ago to help Syrian regime president Bashar Al-Assad in the civil war.
The Shiite group’s media office has not responded to the account, but contacted by AFP.
Three current and one former U.S. officials said that Hezbollah has built an impressive array of weapons that includes antiship missiles.
“We obviously pay great attention to that and take their capabilities seriously,” one official said, without directly commenting on whether the group had the Yakhont.
“Washington says its deployment in the Mediterranean, which includes two aircraft carriers with supporting vessels, is intended to prevent the conflict from widening by deterring Iran, which backs groups including Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad.”