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CIA cover blown in latest spy-versus-spy with Iran

The naming of the CIA station chief in Beirut by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah is seen as part of an intensifying undercover war between the West and Iran.

In this Nov. 11 photo, Hezbollah fighters parade during a rally to mark the Hezbollah martyr day, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon. Current and former US officials say the CIA's operations in Lebanon have been badly damaged after Hezbollah identified and captured a number of US spies recently.

Bilal Hussein/AP

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The publication by the militant Shiite group Hezbollah of the names of the CIA station chief in Beirut and several other alleged CIA staffers is a serious blow to the US agency's ability to gather intelligence amid what appears to be an intensifying undercover war between the West and Iran, according to a former CIA officer.

“There’s obviously an espionage war going on in Iran. And to lose an asset in the middle of a war like this, I think it’s catastrophic,” says Robert Baer, a former CIA officer who operated in Lebanon in the 1980s.

Iran has been rocked in recent weeks by a series of mysterious explosions at facilities believed to be connected to the Islamic Republic's nuclear and missile production programs, raising speculation that the US and Israel are in the throes of a secret intelligence war against Iran.

A special report on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station on Friday listed the names of the alleged CIA station chief in Beirut, along with his predecessor and three CIA officers as well as the nicknames of five other operators.

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