By: Jake Smith, Daily Caller News Foundation
Russia’s Wagner Group plans to provide military equipment to Hezbollah amid growing concerns that the Iranian-backed terror organization will launch a full-scale attack against Israel, U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
The Wagner Group will provide Hezbollah with SA-22 Russian air defense systems, which utilize anti-aircraft missiles and 30mm rounds to protect against aerial attacks, according to U.S. officials who anonymously spoke to the WSJ and Army Recognition. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have been on high alert that Hezbollah may launch a second attack from Israel’s northern border, which could put further strain on military resources.
It has not been confirmed whether the transfer of SA-22 systems to Hezbollah has been completed, U.S. officials told the WSJ.
The Wagner Group operates as a mercenary organization carrying out Moscow’s will on an international scale; the group led a short coup against Moscow in July at the behest of Prigozhin, who felt angered by Russia’s handling of the Ukraine invasion. Prigozhin died in a plane crash in August, which Russian President Vladimir Putin alleged could have been caused by an explosion onboard.
The Wagner Group has operatives in Syria, where Hezbollah terrorists have also been located, according to the WSJ.
Hezbollah has far greater military capability than Hamas and has launched small-scale attacks from Lebanon across Israel’s northern border since Oct. 7. The IDF has rapidly increased its troop presence at the border in anticipation of a full-scale offensive from Hezbollah, which could drag the U.S. into a broader Middle Eastern conflict.
Though Hezbollah operates out of Lebanon, it is backed and supported by Iran, which views the group as a proxy to carry out terror operations on its behalf. The U.S. has repeatedly warned Hezbollah and Iran to stay out of the conflict.
The Pentagon and Russia’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated.