Hezbollah’s Precision Guided Missile project under renewed scrutiny

Recent events in Lebanon have brought about renewed attention to Hezbollah’s Precision Guided Missile (PGM) project after an arms depot belonging to the Iranian-backed proxy exploded in Ayn al-Qana last week and Tuesday’s reveal by Prime Minister Netanyahu of Hezbollah ‘missile factories’ located in three Beirut neighborhoods.

On Sept. 22, a large explosion at a Hezbollah arms depot was reported in the southern Lebanese town of Ayn al-Qana. Shortly after the explosion Hezbollah commented to Al-Jazeera saying the cause of the explosion was a ‘technical error’.

“This explosion was at a house that stored weapons – result of technical error. No one was killed or injured. The building belonged to a Hezbollah affiliated de-mining association,” Hezbollah stated.

However, doubts about Hezbollah’s statement arose when the group announced a week later that one of their militants had recently been killed.

“The Islamic Resistance announces the martyred fighter Ali Najib Marwa, “Haji Abu Hassan Sajid” from the town of Zararia in southern Lebanon, who ascended while performing his jihad duty,” the statement said.

Although Hezbollah never specifically stated how the fighter died, a ‘security source’ stated to Lebanon’s Daily Star the militant had died from ‘wounds sustained in the Ayn al-Qana blast’.

Additionally, the explanation that weapons stored in Ayn al-Qana belonged to a ‘de-mining association’ is doubtful due to previous accusations of Hezbollah concealing its arsenal throughout the Beqaa valley and southern Lebanon.

Israel’s Prime Minister took the opportunity at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to warn Hezbollah that Israel knew the location of ‘missile factories’ in three Beirut neighborhoods. To bolster the effect of the warning, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) published the geographical coordinates of each site.

An hour after Netanyahu’s revelation, Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah took the unusual step to invite the media to one of the sites claimed by Netanyahu as a Hezbollah ‘missile factory’.

Predictably, a thorough inspection of one of the sites visited by the media – largely made up of pro-Hezbollah outlets – never occurred.

The explosion and publication of material relating to Hezbollah’s ‘missile factories’ can be tied to the group’s Precision Guided Missile (PGM) project which it has been working on for the better half of the past decade. Israel’s “war-between-wars” campaign to stop the PGM project has yet to deter the “Axis of Resistance” and will likely continue to be waged over the coming months.

Joe Truzman is a research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian militant groups and Hezbollah.

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