TEL AVIV, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Syria has used up more than 90 percent of its ballistic missiles against rebels during a more than four-year-old civil war but a few were transferred to Hezbollah guerrillas in neighbouring Lebanon, a senior Israeli military officer said on Wednesday.
Israel, which is expanding its high-altitude Arrow air defence system with U.S. help, has been keeping an eye on Syria’s Scud-type missiles as well as Iran’s long-range Shehabs as potential threats.
“The number of (Syrian) ballistic missiles left is less than 10 percent,” a senior Israeli officer told Reuters on condition of anonmity, but added: “That could still change. They could start making them again.”
Syrian opposition activists say Damascus’ army has fired dozens of devastating Scud-type missiles at rebel-held areas, out of a ballistic arsenal believed to have numbered in the hundreds before the insurgency erupted in 2011.
Israel had a stable standoff with Syria’s ruling Assad family for decades. It sees little chance of the now fractured Arab neighbour going to war with it now, but is still on guard for any accidental cross-border launches or deliberate attacks by jihadi rebels.
The Israelis are more worried about Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which fought their superior military to a standstill in a 2006 Lebanon war and has been building up its arsenal.
Hezbollah now has more than 100,000 rockets, including “around 10” advanced Scud-D missiles with conventional warheads supplied by Syria, the senior Israeli military officer said.
Hezbollah does not comment publicly on its military capabilities but has confirmed improving them since 2006. (Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)