Members of Iran’s Basij militia, an internal security force which has had some of its operatives deployed to Syria. (Reuters)

August 25, 2017

The Israeli Mossad agency voiced on Tuesday Tel Aviv’s concern over Iran’s growing power in the region.

It delivered a report on Iran’s influence in Syria to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian city of Sochi on Wednesday.

Mossad Director Yossi Cohen alerted the government to the fact that Iran’s influence, in Syria in particular, and the region in general is growing stronger by the day.

The report noted the constant flow of fighters from Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran commanded by Qasem Soleimani and backed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It also addressed the supply transports by air and sea. The report was prepared by intelligence analyst Ronen Salomon and published by Russia Today.

Salomon’s research shows that Iran is shoring up its presence in Lebanon through the IRGC’s Quds Force, headed by Soleimani.

The Quds Force works with the IRGC’s intelligence division to carry out operations outside of Iran, with the assistance of the Ministry of Intelligence and other ministries and agencies.

The Iranian presence in Syria, meanwhile, begins at the Damascus International Airport region, the Iranian embassy, Mount Qasioun, which overlooks Damascus, and near the Presidential Palace.

Yedioth Ahronoth, which also published segments of the report, stated that Israeli Air Force carried attacks meant to stop ammunition shipments to Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” both at the Damascus airport and in the Qasioun area.

“These are accompanied by ‘interests sections’ used by the Quds Force in aviation and transportation, such as Iran Air and Mahan Air, the ministries of Islamic culture and direction, science and technology, housing and commerce and trade,” explained Salomon.

He claimed that the Quds Force is occasionally using the Iranian Red Crescent both to insert Revolutionary Guard and intelligence ministry operatives and to transport shipment and military aid by air and by sea, as they have already done in Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen.

Research showed that over the past few years, Iran was able to transport a large number of containers carrying advanced implements of war by sea under the guise of commercial shipments. Among other methods, transpiration is carried out through companies connected to Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL).

Meanwhile, and according to the report, Iran started running an airlift to Syria out of Tehran’s airports and Iranian airbases adjacent to the Iraqi border.

Iran’s activity covers four fronts with the main command stationed in Damascus international airport’s area and is entrusted with the airborne supply array and forces spread over greater Damascus.

Salomon stated some eyewitnesses testimonies of the accelerated construction of military complexes in the coastal strip of northwestern Syria, reportedly linked to armament development and storage.

Recently, Iran has made a concerted effort to gain control of the Tanf border crossing between Syria and Iraq with the goal of connecting Iran’s bases and those of its Iraqi branches, according to Salomon. This will also be used to achieve control of Iraq’s shared border with Deir al-Zour in eastern Syria.

Asharq Al-Awsat

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.