The United States has information that the President of Syria, Bashar al Assad, would have agreed to supply batteries of the Russian-made SA-22 surface-to-air missile defense system to the pro-Iranian Shiite movement Hezbollah.
This is what two sources revealed to the US broadcaster CNN, adding that the Russian company Wagner, operating in Syria, would be contracted to deliver the system to Hezbollah.
It is unclear whether the missile system has actually been delivered or when it will be, but both sources added that “this system was supplied by Russia to the Syrian government.” A source said that “the United States was monitoring recent movements of the missile system, also known as Pantsir.”
The other source also stated that “the US assessment is based in part on information obtained from intelligence services regarding talks held by Assad, Wagner and Hezbollah regarding the delivery of the missile system”.
The private paramilitary company Wagner and the Hezbollah movement have been operating in Syria for several years, in collaboration with the Russian and Syrian Armed Forces, to support the Damascus government against the armed opposition factions. In recent years, Hezbollah has begun withdrawing its fighters from the region.
According to a third source linked to Western intelligence services, there is evidence of growing cooperation between Hezbollah and Wagner in Syria. The possibility that Hezbollah will soon obtain a new anti-missile defense system, moreover, comes in a context of concern that Hezbollah militiamen are considering the opening of a new front in the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, along the border northern Israel with Lebanon.
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