Middle East analysts this week warned of a “combustible situation” as new research revealed Iran has established at least 10 military bases in Syria.
These bases are used by Iran for a number of purposes including barracks, logistics, intelligence and the facilitation of arms transfers to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Recent reports indicate new bases are being built to house medium and long-range ballistic missiles.
Satellite photos have been published of an Iranian base with missile storage facilities built close to Damascus.
According to the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM), whose research has been verified by the IDF, there are also approximately 35 Shi’a militias operating in Syria. The briefing paper identifies the top 10 Shi’a militias and describes their composition and size.
The largest of these is the Syrian National Defence Forces (NDF), which represents Iran’s attempts to formally unify the regime’s local militias. Its 90,000-100,000 soldiers are based across seven sites, including Aleppo and Damascus.
Of note is also the presence of approximately 10,000 soldiers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The IRGC is the security and military organisation responsible for the protection and survival of the Iranian regime. Its elite Quds Force is heavily involved in the fighting in Syria.
Israel is also keeping a close eye on Hezbollah, whose 8,000 soldiers possess more than 100,000 missiles in Lebanon.
Since 2011, Israel has fought to contain Iranian expansion in Syria. It has carried out more than 100 strikes in Syria, destroying weapons shipments and chemical weapons bound for Hezbollah. Last month, Syrian missiles destroyed an Israeli F-16 aircraft and Israel subsequently crippled Syria’s anti-aircraft capability.
According to the report, the “sheer number of moving pieces in Syria… create a combustible situation with potential for miscalculation, error and rapid escalation between Israel, Iran and its allies”.
BICOM CEO James Sorene told Jewish News: “Iran’s presence in Syria is not temporary. Our report shows the location of Iran’s network of military bases across the country and lists the heavily-armed Shi’a militias that Iran has exported to Syria. The presence of these forces is
a clear danger to Israel.”
- The report can be read at: bit.ly/2IDpkHv
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