July 17, 2006

Hizballah leader Hassan Nassrallah holed up in Hermel

DEBKAfile Exclusive reveals: Hizballah leader Hassan Nassrallah and top command are holed up in Hermel, the northern Lebanese panhandle bordering Syria

July 17, 2006, 11:02 AM (GMT+02:00)

Among them, according to DEBKAfile’s military and Iranian sources, are Hizballah’s “chief of staff” Ibrahim Akil, its head of intelligence and terror Imad Mughniyeh and commander of special operations Halil Harab.

The group fled their Beirut HQ Saturday night, July 15, and went to ground in the emergency staff bunkers prepared in advance of their July 12 attack on Israel.

After failing to prevent the top Hizballah leaders’ escape from Beirut, the Israeli air force headed north Monday morning, July 17, and is clobbering the Hermel region.

DEBKAfile adds: The Hermel drug-farming pocket bordered north and east by Syria is the haunt of smugglers who use the remote, strategically placed region to move fighters, weapons, cash and drugs across Syria into Iraq and as a staging post to other parts of the Middle East. The smuggling gangs’ overlord is Mughniyeh, a triple Hizballah-Iran-al Qaeda agent and terrorist executive, who has figured high on the US wanted terrorist list for more than two decades. On his orders, the smugglers recently relocated their main operation from the Syrian-Iraqi border to the Syrian-Lebanese border in preparation for the new warfront against Israel. In the last 48 hours, Iran has used this illicit route to beat the Israeli air, sea and land blockade and pump quantities of rockets, anti-air and anti-tank missiles and other advanced weapons systems to Hizballah for a fresh escalation.

Syria's role in this smuggling operation is critical.

DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources add that the holds of all the Iranian passenger flights landing in Damascus from Thursday, July 13, have been crammed with weapons for Hizballah.

Friday and Saturday, 25 Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers, anti-tank and anti-air missile experts, arrived in mufti in the Syrian capital. They were led by the smugglers across mountain routes into Lebanon. Mughniye, a confidant of Iran's Ali Khamenei and Osama bin Laden, is constantly at Nasrallah’s side. He is believed by Israeli intelligence to have engineered the kidnap of the two Israeli soldiers on which sparked the hostilities July 12.

No comments: