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November 6, 2018 1:28 pm

Iran Reportedly Building Syrian Military Base for Pro-Regime Militias

avatar by Steven Emerson


People inspect the damage at a site hit by airstrikes in the rebel-held city of Idlib, Syria, Feb. 7, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Abdullah.

With Hezbollah’s help, Iran has started building another military base to serve pro-Iran militias in southwestern Syria, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reports, citing the Syrian opposition website al-Souria Net.

Iran began building the base in Daraa province after the Assad regime took control over the region in July. Hezbollah operatives are taking the lead in the construction process, with help from Iraqi Shiite militia fighters.

To create space for the military structure, Iran-affiliated terrorists destroyed roughly 650 homes and multiple villages in the Lajat region. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) oversaw the transfer of weaponry and ammunition to the region. Last month, IRGC officers and local militia commanders reportedly met several times to improve weapon flows and military coordination regarding the new base.

In February, satellite imagery exposed another Iranian military base outside of the Syrian capital Damascus. That IRGC-run base reportedly has the ability to host missiles that can strike any part of Israel.

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

Iran also continues to invest considerable resources in strengthening relations with local allies in Syria, including Hezbollah and other Shia militias. But recent reports suggest that the Iranian axis is fostering ties with unlikely partners: former US-backed Sunni rebels in Syria.

Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Hezbollah has recruited close to 2,000 fighters, most of whom from Syrian rebel groups that lost US financing last year. Hezbollah is paying these rebels to switch sides and integrate into a growing, Iranian-led force in southern Syria. Joining Hezbollah also offers assurances that the former opposition fighters will avoid detention by the Syrian regime.

Recruiting local Sunni proxies allows Iran to enhance its presence close to Israel’s border, after seemingly withdrawing from the region to escape Israeli airstrikes. In addition to building military infrastructure in Daraa province, other IRGC-affiliated organizations are helping spread the regime’s radical ideology across Syria to enhance the Islamic Republic’s soft power presence in the country.

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