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Russia’s Wagner group prepares to send Hezbollah weapons amid clashes with Israel, US says

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Russia’s mercenary group is preparing to deliver an advanced air defense missile system to Hezbollah as the Lebanese militia group clashes with Israel, according to US intelligence.

American officials are currently monitoring discussions between the Wagner mercenary group and Lebanon’s Hamas-supporting militia over the possible delivery of the SA-22, a system that uses anti-aircraft missiles and guns to combat airstrikes, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The SA-22 system, also known as Pantsir-S1, is a truck-mounted surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapons system made in Russia.  

The weapon has seen action in the Russian-Ukraine War and could be deployed in the Middle East as a defense for the Iran-backed militia group against Israel’s airstrikes.

Clashes between Israel and Hezbollah have increased along the Lebanese border as the war with Hamas rages in Gaza.

American officials say the SA-22 has yet to be delivered to Lebanon, but noted that some Hezbollah and Wagner personnel are currently stationed in Syria.

Hezbollah fighters are allegedly in contact with Russia’s Wagner mercenary group to receive an anti-aircraft weapon. AP

The SA-22, developed in Russia, uses missiles and gunfire to take out aircrafts.Imagebroker/Shutterstock

It remains unclear if the weapon could be transported from Lebanon to Gaza as a means to help Hamas combat Israel’s bombardments of the Palestinian enclave.

Russian officials have yet to comment on the alleged discussions between Wagner and Hezbollah.

The US has made its presence known in the area by stationing an aircraft carrier in the Eastern Mediterranean as a deterrent for Hezbollah to join Hamas in attacking Israel.

After Israel declared war on Hamas on Oct. 7, President Biden warned outside parties from staging an assault on Israel’s borders.

The Wagner Group lost its autonomy following the mercenaries’ coup attempt over the summer. AP

Despite the warning, the heads of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad met last week to announce their united war against the Jewish State.

The trio of terrorist leaders — dubbed the “axis of resistance” — met to set a goal for achieving “a real victory for the resistance in Gaza and Palestine” and halt Israel’s “treacherous and brutal aggression against our oppressed and steadfast people in Gaza and the West Bank,” according to a brief statement released afterward.

The meeting came after Israel vowed to launch a full-scale military assault against Iran if Hezbollah joined the ongoing war.

“The plan of Iran is to attack Israel on all fronts. If we find they intend to target Israel, we will not just retaliate to those fronts, but we will go to the head of the snake, which is Iran,” Nir Barkat, Israel’s Minister of Economy, told the Daily Mail.

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