DAMASCUS, SYRIA (7:00 PM) – The Islamic Republic of Iran is constructing what seems to be a permanent military base just south of the Syrian capital of Damascus, according to a Western intelligence officer who spoke to the BBC.
A series of satellite images published by the British broadcaster show widespread construction taking place on a site at El-Kiswah, around 14 km south of Damascus. According to the BBC, the images show “a series of two dozen large low-rise buildings, likely for housing soldiers and vehicles,” as well as several other buildings still under construction. Also in the area is a series of garages that can hold six to eight military vehicles each.
However, the BBC report also admits that “it is impossible to independently verify the purpose of the site and the presence of the Iranian military,” and that no storage rooms for large or unconventional weaponry seem to exist at the site. This has led some to believe that the camp might actually be intended for Shia volunteers from Pakistan or Afghanistan, who are also participating in the war against ISIS.
The construction is particularly cause of concern for Israel, as the site lies just 30 km from the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Prime Minister of the Israeli regime Benjamin Netanyahu reacted on Twitter by stating “Iran wants to establish itself militarily in Syria, right next to Israel. Israel will not let that happen.”
Iran has been a consistent supporter of the Syrian Arab Republic, and has given extensive military support to Syria at least since 2013. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has been of particular support, ensuring training of Syrian special forces and anti-terrorist units as well as foreign volunteers. Major General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the elite Al-Quds Forces of the IRGC has been pictures several times in Deir Ezzor in the past weeks. And in September, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated that Iran is dedicated to continue supporting Syria until the war against terrorism is won.