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Report: Iran Uses EU Ports and False Documents to Smuggle Arms to Hezbollah

Latakia Syria
Latakia in Syria is reported to be the port used for smuggling the arms to Hezbollah (public domain photo)

Published Mar 15, 2024 12:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

It has long been known that Iran is supplying weapons to the Hezbollah militants in Lebanon used to attack Israel as well as its recent arms shipments to the Houthi rebels to attack shipping in the Red Sea. The British newspaper The Telegram is citing sources in Israel that are saying Iran is using its cargo ships and manifests for European ports to hide its arms shipments.

Citing an independent intelligence analyst based in Israel, the report which appeared in the March 14 edition of The Telegraph says Iran diverted arms to ships as Israel has been effective in disrupting overland shipments sent via Iraq and into Syria. They cite the frequent attacks by Israel on the land infrastructure used to reach Lebanon and the bases of Hezbollah in the southern areas near the Israeli border. 

They report that five Iranian ships, named Daisy, Kashan, Shiba, Arezoo, and Azargoun, have all been spotted making the transit with declared destinations ranging from Antwerp, Belgium, to Valencia in Spain, and Ravenna in Italy. However, according to the Israeli analyst, each of the vessels after starting their trips in Bandar Abbas in Iran first traveled to the Syrian port of Latakia.

The Telegraph reports Iran is attempting to disguise the purpose of the trips by sending the vessels to Europe. The report quotes an Israeli intelligence source saying Iran is switching paperwork and containers to “clean the shipments.” They believe arms including missiles and bombs are hidden in the shipments.

A review of AIS data shows the containership Arezoo registered in Iran is completing the circuit described in the report. She visited the ports mentioned in Italy, Spain, and Belgium, departing for her return trip to Iran last week. The Shiba is also returning to Iran from Antwerp while the Kashan is currently heading toward the Suez Canal after departing Iran.

The Port of Latakia, Syria’s main seaport, has been cited before for smuggling and other illegal activities. The Israelis are thought to have bombed the port on several occasions.

Since the start of the war in Gaza, Hezbollah has also increased its attacks on Israel sending a large number of missiles across the border. The Telegraph says 100 rockets were launched into the Golan Heights region in a single day this week. They report around 60,000 Israelis have been evacuated from the border region. 

The United States has also intercepted arms shipments and components coming from Iran on smaller dhows bound for Yemen. In January, the U.S. confirmed the capture of missile components coming from Iran aboard a dhow. In February, the U.S. reported it had intercepted a second shipment also bound for Yemen.