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New US State Department Report Highlights Iran’s Terror Footprint, From Gaza to Pakistan

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a National Army Day parade in Tehran, April 18, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Tasnim News Agency / Handout via Reuters.

Iran’s terror footprint extended across the Middle East from the Gaza Strip to Pakistan during 2019, the US State Department said on Wednesday, as it published its annual list of country-by-country reports on terrorism.

Examining the twin threats posed by Tehran-backed terrorist groups on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and its southern border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the report emphasized that Iranian military and logistical support had continued apace.

“Since the end of the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, Iran has supplied Hezbollah with thousands of rockets, missiles, and small arms in direct violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701,” the report noted in its overview of the continuing threat posed to Israel by the Shi’a terrorist group, which has effectively controlled Lebanon’s government since January. Resolution 1701 demands the disarming and dismantling of paramilitary groups in Lebanon.

The report added that “Israeli security officials and politicians expressed concerns that Iran was supplying Hezbollah with advanced weapons systems and technologies, as well as assisting the group in creating infrastructure that would permit it to indigenously produce rockets and missiles to threaten Israel from Lebanon and Syria.”

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Iran also provided support to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, including Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC).

“These Palestinian terrorist groups were behind numerous deadly attacks originating in Gaza and the West Bank, including attacks against Israeli civilians in the Sinai Peninsula,” the State Department report stated.

Prominently highlighted was Iran’s continued backing for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.

“Iran views the Assad regime in Syria as a crucial ally and Syria and Iraq as vital routes through which to supply weapons to Hezbollah, Iran’s primary terrorist proxy group,” the report said.

It noted as well that through “financial or residency enticements, Iran has facilitated and coerced primarily Shia fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan to participate in the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown in Syria.”

It said, “Iran-supported Shia militias in Iraq have also committed serious human rights abuses against primarily Sunni civilians. Iranian forces have directly backed militia operations in Syria with armored vehicles, artillery, and drones.”

Iran’s activities also extended into cyberspace, according to the report. The Tehran regime “maintains a robust offensive cyber program and has sponsored cyber attacks against foreign government and private sector entities,” it said.

The report underlined the US decision in April 2019 to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — Quds Force (IRGC-QF) as a terrorist organization in its entirety. “Iran has acknowledged the involvement of the IRGC-QF in the Iraq and Syria conflicts, and the IRGC-QF is Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad,” the report said.

The commander of the Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, was assassinated in a US airstrike on his convoy outside Baghdad International Airport on Jan. 3 this year.

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