Monday, July 31, 2006

Iranian officer: Hezbollah has a commando naval unit

By Ali Nourizadeh

At the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war, when the general command of Iran’s armed forces decided to create elite units for irregular combat, Ayatollah Khomeini appointed Mostafa Chamran, then assistant defense minister and head of military operations against Peshmerga fighters in Iranian Kurdistan.

“He has spent many years in Lebanon and contributed to the creation of the Amal movement with Imam Moussa Sadr, so he knows how to wage a guerilla war behind enemy lines,” was how the Supreme leader described Chamran to the commander of the ground forces at the time, Qassem Ali Zahirnejad.

Responsibility for guerrilla warfare training soon fell on the Revolutionary Guards. Fighters from Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and other Arab countries attended military training camps and learnt guerrilla tactics to confront a regular army. They also underwent explosive training and were taught how to hijack planes and bomb military and economic installations.

Many Hezbollah members who are currently confronting Israel’s military might have attended these exclusive camps in Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad and Ahvaz.

According to a senior officer in the Revolutionary Guards, who himself trained Hezbollah's navy units, the Party of God still has a number of surprises for the Israelis. The bombing of an Israeli navy vessel with two C802 missiles, with the assistance of Revolutionary Guards commanders present in Lebanon, was not a direct confrontation. Hezbollah, he said, has a submarine unit and a navy commando unit that operates Chinese-manufactured speed boats, capable of targeting the Israeli navy.

With the assistance of several Iranian engineers and technicians, as well as North Korean experts, who traveled to Lebanon disguised as servants for the Iranian embassy and its officers, Hezbollah has successfully built a 25km long underground belt, with 12-meter openings along it, the officer added. Every four openings are connected to one another through an easily accessible passageway.

In addition, Members of the Revolutionary Guards built warehouses in the Bekaa Valley containing huge amounts of rockets and ammunition, at a depth of no more than 8 meters. A central operation room is also located in the Bekaa Valley and is overseen by four Iranian officers and four Hezbollah fighters. Additional command and operation rooms are located across Lebanon.

Hezbollah has three missile units, which includes some 200 technicians and experts trained in Iran, that are supervised by a 20-strong committee.