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March 1, 2018 10:21 am

Report: Iran Is Building Another Syrian Base to Target Israel

avatar by Steven Emerson

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Satellite photos of a purported Iranian base outside of Damascus. Photo: ImageSat International.

Iran has constructed another military base in Syria, with the ability to host missiles that can strike any part of Israel, according to ImageSat International satellite images obtained exclusively by Fox News.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) al-Quds Force reportedly operates the base, which is located outside of the Syrian capital of Damascus.

Iran already oversees a military compound near the Damascus airport and other high-profile airbases, and other permanent military sites across the country.

The United States and Israel are concerned about Iran’s ongoing efforts to consolidate permanent operating bases in Syria. Since first intervening in that country’s civil war in 2011, the Islamic Republic has been working to cement a land bridge from Tehran to Beirut, through Syria.

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Last month, Israel shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated Israel’s airspace. Israeli jets subsequently bombed several military targets in Syria, including some under Iranian control. In the process, Syrian air defenses downed an Israeli jet — the first time that an Israeli military aircraft had been taken out by enemy fire since the 1980s.

This escalation marked the first direct confrontation between Israeli and Iranian forces. Iran may have deployed the drone to conduct surveillance — or to test Israel’s air defenses and provoke an Israeli response. Regardless of its primary motivation, the incident shows that Iran is increasingly emboldened and willing to use Syria as a base to challenge Israel directly.

Israel has set red lines throughout the Syrian civil war, focused on preventing “game-changing” weapons from landing in Hezbollah’s hands, as well as stopping a permanent Iranian military presence from emerging in Syria. Israeli leaders understand that the Jewish state cannot remove Iranian forces from its borders alone, and have thus engaged in diplomatic initiatives with the United States and Russia to negotiate a potential buffer zone free of an Iranian presence.

In the meantime, Iran continues to expand its reach in Syria, in an effort to open another front against Israel in a future war. The latest military base outside Damascus is yet another example of Iran encroaching onto Israel’s borders.

With the downfall of the Islamic State as a military force in Syria, Iran and its proxies — including Hezbollah and other Shia militias — are now focusing their efforts on targeting the Jewish state.

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