TEL AVIV – Iran’s civilian airline is being used to smuggle arms to terror group Hezbollah and Iranian weapons factories in Lebanon, Fox News reported Monday citing Western intelligence officials.
Two unscheduled flights operated by Qeshm Fars Air made trips from Tehran to Beirut with unusual routes in an apparent attempt to avoid detection, the officials said. One Boeing 747 flight on July 9 made a stop in Damascus, Syria with an “uncharacteristic flight path,” Fox reported. The second was a direct flight on August 4 that “followed a slightly irregular route north of Syria.”
“The Iranians are trying to come up with new ways and routes to smuggle weapons from Iran to its allies in the Middle East, testing and defying the West’s abilities to track them down,” one intelligence officer told Fox.
Qeshm Fars Air stopped operating in 2013 amid administrative failures, but resumed operations in March 2017. Three members of the company’s board are from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards: Ali Naghi Gol Parsta, Hamid Reza Pahlvani and Gholamreza Qhasemi.
Israel has in the past claimed that Iran was using civilian airlines to supply weapons to terror proxies overseas. In 2016, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon warned of such Security Council members.
Last week, Reuters reported that Iran had transferred short-range ballistic missiles to its Shi’ite proxies inside Iraq in recent months, giving Tehran the means to attack regional foes including Israel and Saudi Arabia, which would both be within direct striking distance, Western intelligence sources said.
On Tuesday, a senior Israeli official warned that the “IDF will continue operating with full determination against Iran’s attempts to transfer military forces and weapons systems to Syria.”
His comments came after Damascus and Tehran signed a military cooperation deal.