Several days after a Hezbollah truck carrying ammunition overturned near Beirut, killing two people and sparking clashes with residents of a local Christian town, security sources reportedly estimated that the vehicle had been transporting anti-tank missiles sent from Iran.
The violence erupted Wednesday evening after the accident in the town of Kahale, located in the mountains east of the Lebanese capital, on the road linking Beirut to the Bekaa Valley bordering Syria.
Kahale mayor Abboud Abi Khalil has told AFP that residents surrounded the truck demanding to know what was inside before Hezbollah members escorting it opened fire and killed one of them.
The powerful Iran-backed Shiite terror group said one of its members, Ahmad Ali Kassas, was shot in ensuing clashes and later died of his wounds.
The Lebanese army said Thursday that it had seized munitions from the overturned truck, adding that “the cargo of the truck has been transported to a military center, and an investigation has been opened by the competent judicial authorities.”
On Saturday, Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported that security officials from an unidentified Middle Eastern country were estimating that the cargo was Iranian anti-tank missiles, sent by the Islamic Republic to its Lebanese proxy terror group.
BREAKING: @Reuters reports two people killed in clashes between Hezbollah & residents of Christian town on Beirut-Damascus highway
Residents gathered after a truck overturned, some suspecting it carried Hezbollah equipment.
Social media video: pic.twitter.com/InzQHjbaO6
— Timour Azhari (@timourazhari) August 9, 2023
The report noted that the weapons had been transported “in a completely civilian terrain and in a dangerous manner,” and that the incident had caused “embarrassment” for Hezbollah, which has tried to downplay the incident.
Kan added that the security sources said the attempted arms smuggling was orchestrated by Hezbollah’s 4400 unit, among other bodies and officials involved in many similar attempts to pass munitions from Iran via Syria.
Hezbollah is the only Lebanese faction that kept its weapons after the end of the 1975-1990 civil war. It is considered a terrorist organization by many Western governments.
Israel and Hezbollah have in recent days engaged in an escalating war of words, with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant threatening Tuesday to “return Lebanon to the Stone Age” in the event of an escalation, and a senior Hezbollah commander saying Saturday that a future war would be conducted in Israel’s Galilee region and cause IDF posts to turn into “graveyards.”
In August 2021, angry residents of a mainly Druze village in southern Lebanon stopped a truck carrying a rocket launcher used by Hezbollah in an attack on Israel, accusing the Shiite movement of endangering civilian lives.
AFP contributed to this report.