Hezbolah, a powerful militant group based in Lebanon, has recently acquired potent Russian anti-ship missiles, which, according to sources familiar with Hezbolah's arsenal, could pose a significant threat to the U.S. Navy in the region.
Last week, the leader of Hezbolah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, issued a warning to the U.S. Navy, indicating that his group was prepared to take action against American ships deployed in the area. Sources in Lebanon with knowledge of Hezbolah's weaponry suggest that Nasrallah was referring to Hezbolah's significantly enhanced anti-ship missile capabilities, including the Russian-produced "Yakhont" missile, with a range of 300 kilometers, as reported by Reuters.
Media reports and analysts have long speculated that Hezbolah obtained the "Yakhont" missiles in Syria when its fighters were sent to assist President Bashar al-Assad. Hezbolah has never officially confirmed the possession of such weaponry.
In a speech on Friday, Nasrallah said that US warships in the Mediterranean "do not scare them"
The U.S. Navy presence in the Mediterranean, including two aircraft carriers and their accompanying ships, aims to deter Iran, which supports groups like Hamas, Hezbolah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and prevent the escalation of conflicts.
Hezbolah perceives American warships as a direct threat, and Nasrallah stated in a recent speech that U.S. warships in the Mediterranean do not intimidate them, expressing, "We are prepared for the fleets that threaten us." Following this statement, the White House emphasized that Hezbolah should not exploit the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel, and the U.S.
does not want the conflict to spill over into Lebanon. One source mentioned that Hezbolah's anti-ship capabilities have greatly evolved since 2006 when they first demonstrated their ability to target a vessel at sea by successfully hitting an Israeli warship in the Mediterranean during the conflict with Israel.
"There is the Yakhont, and, of course, there are other things besides it," the source added without providing further details. The use of such weapons by Hezbolah against enemy warships would signify a dangerous escalation, potentially leading to a large-scale regional conflict. The situation remains tense, and the international community is closely monitoring the developments in the region.