US and Hezbollah coordinate spy drone flights over Qalamoun, share US combat intelligence
By Debka File
Another strange pair of bedfellows has turned up in one of the most critical Middle East battlefields: the United States is helping Hezbollah, 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 Hezbollah 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 Hezbollah 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:
- To counter US-Hezbollah intelligence collaboration, Israel is obliged to reshuffle the entire intelligence mechanism it maintains to protect its northern borders with Lebanon and Syria.
- Israel finds itself forced to monitor the progress of the US special unit’s interface with Hezbollah, its avowed enemy.
- Israel can no longer trust American intelligence coming in from Lebanon because it is likely tainted by Hezbollah sources.
- Hezbollah is gaining firsthand insights into the operating methods of US special operations forces, which Israel’s methods strongly resemble and must therefore revamp.
- The Hezbollah terrorist group is winning much-needed prestige and enhanced status in the region from its collaboration with the US.
- Hezbollah’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?
China Jams US Spy Drones Over Disputed South China Sea Islands
By Sputnik News
China tried to electronically jam US drone flights over the disputed South China Sea in order to prevent surveillance on man-made islands Beijing is constructing as a part of an aggressive land reclamation initiative, US officials said.
Global Hawk long-range surveillance drones were targeted by jamming in at least one incident near the Spratly Islands, where China is building military facilities on Fiery Cross Reef, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
That statement follows Thursday reports that the Chinese navy warned a US surveillance plane to leave the same area eight times in an apparent effort to establish and enforce a no-fly zone, a demand Washington rejected.
“This is the Chinese navy … This is the Chinese navy … Please go away … to avoid misunderstanding,” a radio call in English from an installation on Fiery Cross said. The warnings were reported by CNN, which had a crew on the aircraft.
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said the United States does not recognize China’s sovereignty claims over the new islands. He added that flights and Navy ships will continue their routine patrols, but will maintain a distance of at least 12 miles from the island.
Details of the drone interference are classified, but last week, David Shear, the assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs, said Global Hawks are deployed in Asia as one element of a buildup of forces near the South China Sea.
“We’re engaged in a long-term effort to bolster our capabilities in the region,” Shear told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Just a few examples of the increases in our capabilities in the region include the deployment of Global Hawks and F-35s. Soon we will be adding to the stock of V-22s in Japan as well.”
Shear said the Pentagon estimates that China will complete construction of an airfield on Fiery Cross Reef by 2017 or 2018. Meanwhile, rapid militarization has security experts worried about the potential for a conflict.
Rick Fisher, a China military affairs analyst, said China could increase pressure on the United States to halt surveillance flights in Asia by first attacking one of the unmanned aircraft flights.
“Though UAVs like the Global Hawk are rather expensive, they are also regarded as more expendable because they are unmanned,” Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, told the Washington Free Beacon.
“But failing to defend these UAVs runs the risk of China viewing them as ‘fair game’ to shoot down whenever they please.”
Beijing also might attempt to capture a Global Hawk by causing one to crash in shallow water, or by attempting to snatch one in flight using a manned aircraft, Fisher said.
- Risk of US-Chinese confrontation increases in South China Sea
- China Preparing for Massive Drone Warfare