07:38 GMT +323 October 2019
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    Hezbollah fighter stands at a watchtower (File)

    Alleged Photo of ‘New Hezbollah Anti-Ship Missile’ Surfaces Online as US Destroyer Docks in Beirut

    © AP Photo / Bilal Hussein
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    The US Navy’s guided missile destroyer USS Ramage became the first US warship to dock at a Lebanese port in decades on Saturday, with the US Embassy calling the port visit a “security reminder” of the US Navy’s constant presence off the Mediterranean country’s coast amid boiling tensions between Hezbollah and the Israeli military.

    A photo has appeared online purporting to show a ‘new’ anti-ship missile with the Hezbollah logo emblazoned on its front half.

    According to @South_thaer, the Twitter user allegedly affiliated with Hezbollah who posted a picture of the missile, the weapon was capable of “destroying all military battleships of any kind, and annihilating all onboard.”

    Although Hezbollah’s media wing has yet to make reference to the missile on its official accounts, the image was quickly spread on Israeli and Iranian media.

    Furthermore, eagle-eyed social media users pointed out that the missile looked similar to a Chinese-developed YJ-83 subsonic anti-ship cruise missile. Along with China, that missile is thought to be operated by Algeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan and Yemen.

    Others claimed this particular image was not new, with Hezbollah reportedly showing off the missile last month while showcasing the details of the militia group’s attack on an Israeli corvette during the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah War.

    The photo was released shortly after a US destroyer docked in the Lebanese capital over the weekend, becoming the first warship to do so since 1984. The US Embassy in Lebanon posted photos of the ship’s visit, and called the port call a “goodwill visit” meant to showcase the “strong US-Lebanon relationship,” and to serve as a “security reminder.”

    The US ended its military presence in Lebanon in 1984 after a terrorist attack on a barracks containing hundreds of US and French troops. A group called the Islamic Jihad Organisation claimed responsibility. The bombing prompted the US to evacuate its remaining 1,700 Marines from the country, with France pulling out its troops shortly thereafter.

    Hezbollah-Israel Tensions

    Lebanon, a small Mediterranean country with a multi-confessional population of just 6 million, has faced the brunt of several regional crises in recent years, taking in over 1.5 million refugees from neighbouring Syria during the foreign-backed civil conflict in that country, and seeing its borders and airspace repeatedly violated by Israeli military attacks against Hezbollah, and targets in Syria.

    Earlier this month, Israel and Hezbollah saw their worst clashes in years, with the Israeli military launching mortar, artillery and air strikes into southern Lebanon after Hezbollah lobbed multiple anti-tank rockets at Israeli Defence Force positions along the disputed border area. Before that, Hezbollah and Lebanon accused Israel of dropping firebombs on a Lebanese grove, flying drones into Beirut to attack a Hezbollah media office, and attacking a position on the Lebanese-Syrian border. Tel Aviv did not comment on the reported attacks.

    The violence prompted Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun to dub Israel’s actions as a “declaration of war,” while Prime Minister Saad Hariri held urgent talks with US and French officials, calling on Washington, Paris and other countries to intervene to stop the escalation. Later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to take whatever actions were necessary to combat the alleged Iranian threat against Israel, whether it be in Lebanon, Gaza, Syria, Iraq or elsewhere.

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