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White House: Wagner prepares to provide air defense to Hezbollah or Iran

by Martin Fornusek November 21, 2023 9:37 PM 1 min read
John Kirby speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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The declassified White House intelligence confirms that the Russian Wagner Group has been preparing to provide air defense capabilities to either Iran or Hezbollah, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Nov. 21.

While the report did not clarify where the missile system would be coming from, Kirby said that the mercenary group is likely following instructions from the Russian government.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 2 that according to an unnamed U.S. official, Wagner may be providing Pantsir anti-aircraft systems to Hezbollah.

"We are prepared to use our counterterrorism sanctions authorities against Russian individuals or entities making these destabilizing transfers," Kirby said.

Moscow has been deepening military cooperation with Tehran, securing extensive supplies of Shahed "kamikaze" drones used in airstrikes against Ukraine. The U.S. is also concerned that Iran is preparing to supply ballistic missiles to Russia, Kirby said.

Both Wagner fighters and members of Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group backed by Iran, operated in Syria for years, fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad's government troops. The Syrian dictator is also a close ally of both Russia and Iran.

Worries over potential military supplies to Hezbollah are aggravated by the ongoing Israel-Hamas War. While not joining the Hamas' attack directly, the Lebanese militant group and the Israeli military have exchanged rocket fire over the past weeks.

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