Israel has reportedly taken a preemptive tone this week and warned Iran that it will strike any arms shipment traveling to Syria under the guise of international aid after a catastrophic earthquake hit Turkey and Syria this week.
Rescue workers are still pulling people trapped under rubble as international aid continues to pour in. An estimated 22,000 people have been killed since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the region four days ago, according to reports Friday.
However, the crisis has Israeli security officials concerned that Iran will use the devastating event to funnel arms to the terrorist group Hezbollah, which it has backed since its inception in the early 1980s.
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“There is information indicating that Iran will take advantage of the tragic situation in Syria and, under the cover of humanitarian aid, will send weapons and equipment to Hezbollah,” one anonymous Israeli military official told the Saudi newspaper Elaph Wednesday.
The unnamed official reportedly told the publication that Israel stands “ready to strike any equipment or weapons anywhere inside Syrian territory.”
Fox News Digital could not independently verify whether Iran has taken steps to funnel arms into Syria under the guise of aid, though one reporter for the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation took to Twitter to post a video Thursday of “pro-Iranian militias in Iraq.” traveling in a convoy to deliver “aid…to the victims of the earthquake in Syria.”
In a separate video Friday, the reporter posted footage of a commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, Brig. Gen. Esmail Qaani, who was allegedly spotted in the western Syrian city of Latakia “to monitor aid to earthquake victims.”
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He also reportedly met with the local governor.
Israeli intelligence and security expert, Brig. Gen. (Res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, now a senior researcher at the Israel Defense Security Forum told Fox News Digital that “Iran has in the past used humanitarian disasters to transport weapons clandestinely and illegally and may well try to use this humanitarian disaster in Syria as a decoy for transporting additional advanced weapons systems to Syria.”
Kuperwasser said Tehran would most likely look to send advanced air defense batteries, loitering munitions like “kamikaze drones” and long-range missile components.
Iran and Israel have long engaged in a proxy war in Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011, and clandestine operations across the Middle East have been commonplace.
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However, the regional devastation from the earthquake could allow Iran to expand its support for forces in Syria and beyond.
“Iran continues to exploit the Syrian weakness and dependence on external assistance to promote the Iranian strategy of regional dominance and deployment of weapons near Israel,” Kuperwasser said. “It should be clear to the world that Iran is a global disruptor and menace which doesn’t only concern Israel or the Middle East.”
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