January 1, 2019
A Fars Air Qeshm cargo 747 airliner left Tehran at 8 a.m. on Sunday and landed in Damascus at 10:30 a.m., returning to Tehran at 5 p.m. The 747 allegedly transported weapons to Hezbollah in September, according to a report from Fox News that was based on Western intelligence assessments. The aircraft also made suspicious flights in July and August to Damascus and Beirut.
“The Iranians are trying to come up with new ways and routes to smuggle weapons from Iran to its allies in the Middle East,” a source told Fox News in September. Israel has warned about Hezbollah using areas in Beirut to store weapons. This same cargo plane made another suspicious trip on November 29 to Beirut. On December 25, it flew into Damascus and left by the evening, in a pattern that matches the one it flew on Sunday. Air strikes on December 25, which Russia and Syria blamed on Israel, struck west of Damascus soon after.
According to observers online who track suspicious flights and military activity, the arrival of the flight coincided with activity by at least two other flights off the coast of Lebanon that were collecting intelligence. “If I had to guess I would say they were targeting Iranian facilities in Syria and possible weapons transfers to Hezbollah in Lebanon,” Rick Francona, a retired US Air Force intelligence officer and former CNN military analyst tweeted Sunday morning.
The flight of the Fars Air Qeshm 747 came as Damascus is increasingly on a diplomatic winning streak in the region, with new outreach to Egypt other Person Gulf countries. Damascus is also trying to prevent a Turkish offensive against areas from which the US is withdrawing. Iran and Syria held talks about long-term economic cooperation on Sunday in Tehran.
The Jerusalem Post