US and Hizballah coordinate spy drone flights over Qalamoun, share US combat intelligence
Another strange pair of bedfellows has turned up in one of the most critical Middle East battlefields: the United States is helping Hizballah, Iran’s Lebanese surrogate, in the battle for control of the strategic Qalamoun Mountains. debkafile’s intelligence sources disclose that a US special operations unit, stationed at the Hamat air base on the coast of northern Lebanon, is directing unarmed Aerosonde MK 4.7 reconnaissance drone intelligence-gathering flights over the Qalamoun Mt arena, 100 km to the west.
Washington set up the base originally in line with an assurance to Beirut of military assistance for the next three years to counter any threatened invasion by extremist elements.
However, it turns out that the data the US drones pass to Lebanese army general staff in Beirut goes straight to Hizballah headquarters – and on to the Iranian officers in Syria running Bashar Assad’s war effort.
The Aerosonde MK 4.7 can stay aloft for 10 to 12 hours at a stretch at an altitude of 4.5 km. It functions day or night, equipped with an advanced laser pointer capability. It is capable of carrying ordnance but US sources say they the aircraft in Lebanon are unarmed.
Since Hizballah is also operating Ababil-3 surveillance drones of its own over Qalamoun, coordination had become necessary between the American team and the Shiite group. The consequence is that for the first time, the US military is working directly with an internationally-designated terrorist organization – a development with earthshaking ramifications for Israel’s security. This partnership has in fact become a game-changer for the worse in terms of Israel’s security ties with the US and has caused an upheaval in its military and intelligence disposition in the region, in at least six respects:
1. To counter US-Hizballah intelligence collaboration, Israel is obliged to reshuffle the entire intelligence mechanism it maintains to protect its northern borders with Lebanon and Syria.
2. Israel finds itself forced to monitor the progress of the US special unit’s interface with Hizballah, its avowed enemy.
3. Israel can no longer trust American intelligence coming in from Lebanon because it is likely tainted by Hizballah sources.
4. Hizballah is gaining firsthand insights into the operating methods of US special operations forces, which Israel’s methods strongly resemble and must therefore revamp.
5. The Hizballah terrorist group is winning much needed prestige and enhanced status in the region from its collaboration with the US.
6. Hizballah’s Ababil drones are in fact operated by the hostile Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which leaves Israel with no option but to overhaul from top to bottom the intelligence-gathering systems employed by its surveillance drones to track Iranian movements in the region.
At the Washington Adas Israel synagogue Friday, May 22, President Barack Obama wearing a kipah "forcefully" objected to suggestions that policy differences between his administration and the Israeli government signaled his lack of support for the longtime US ally.
This raises a question: How do Obama's repeated commitments to Israel’s security square with close US military and intelligence cooperation with an organization whose vow to destroy Israel is backed by 100,000 missiles – all pointed south?