So reports the New York Sun’s Ira Stoll this morning:
Hundreds of Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel are on the ground in Lebanon fighting Israel, security sources say.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that they are there and operating some of the equipment,” an Arab diplomatic source told The New York Sun yesterday.
Another foreign source, based in Washington, said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps contingent in Lebanon is based in Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley. He said the troops usually number a few dozen, but that the size of the force increased in connection with the hostilities that have broken out between Israel and Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, over the past week.
The sources said the Iranians had directly operated a radar-guided C–802 missile that Iran acquired from Communist China and that hit an Israeli navy missile boat off the coast of Lebanon on Friday, killing four Israeli seamen.
“This was a direct message to the Israelis that we are fighting the Iranians here,” the Arab diplomatic source said.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s mission in Lebanon includes keeping custody of Zalzal missiles and drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles. A report by an Israel-based research group, the Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center, identifies the units of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard “deployed and active in Lebanon” as the “Al-Quds Force.” The Lebanon-based Iranian force “provides military guidance and support for terrorist attacks against Israel,” the report says.
President Bush has openly blamed Iran, along with Syria, for sponsoring Hezbollah, but he has stopped short of identifying the presence of Iranian troops in Lebanon.