Category Archives: Iran

US-led forces establish new military outposts east of Hajin, Deir ez-Zor

The battleground in eastern Syria has only grown more complex as the U.S.-led, mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces and the Russia-backed Syrian military fought two separate campaigns to destroy ISIS. As the Syrian military, backed by various pro-government militias—many of which were supported by Iran—and Russian warplanes, retook Deir Ezzor city and the border town of Al-Bukamal, they declared victory over ISIS and reclaimed the region for Assad.

On the other side of the Euphrates River, however, the Syrian Democratic Forces maintained control of lucrative oil fields. The Kurdish leadership had reportedly entered into preliminary talks with the Syrian government to negotiate the return of these sites in exchange for greater autonomy across majority-Kurdish northern Syria, but two major developments have upset the dynamics of eastern Syria.

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http://www.newsweek.com/us-wanted-attack-russians-syria-again-moscow-stepped-mattis-says-864666

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Iraqi government has recently sent (and keeps sending) hundreds of its troops, backed by Humvees, BMPs and Abrams tanks “to restore security and law” in Basra Province near Kuwait/Iran borders, where Saudi Arabia will re-open its consulate after 28 years

The Iraqi government announced that the Saudi Arabian consulate will open in the city of Basra within two weeks.

Under the direction of Saudi leadership, the consulate will be in a temporary location with its staff set to arrive to begin working soon.

The head of the Saudi delegation, Abdulrahman al-Shehri, who visited the Iraqi city on Sunday said that the consulate will open soon in order to provide needed services and facilitate pilgrimage and travel of investors between both countries.

An official from Basra’s Administrative Affairs office said in a press release that the city will facilitate all procedures in order to re-open the consulate as soon as possible.

The Saudi consulate in Basra had closed in 1990 during the second Gulf war. Basra is considered the second largest city in Iraq and hosts five other consulates which include the US consulate, Russia and Iran.

Read More At:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/02/12/Saudi-consulate-to-re-open-in-Basra-Iraq.html

The Iraqi government yesterday sent hundreds of its troops, backed by armoured vehicles and tank, to the country’s southern province of Basra to restore security and law following an increase in tribal conflicts in the region.

The Basra Operations Command, Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Khalaf, said that the troops included personnel from the federal police units.

Basra, near Iraq’s southern border with Kuwait, has long been the scene of inter-tribal battles over business disputes, questions of honour or even football matches.

With security forces deployed to the country’s north to battle Daesh, Basra residents caught in the crossfire say they feel abandoned. Residents of the province say security forces are powerless to halt the clashes.

Read More At:

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180209-iraq-sends-military-troops-to-basra-to-restore-security/

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Israeli military equipment, including Iron Dome missile defense systems, heading North towards Golan Heights

Israel’s cross-border clash with Iranian and Syrian forces on Saturday was a sharp escalation of long-brewing hostilities along its northern frontier — and a bracing alert to those who have focused on other areas of the Syrian civil war, on other aspects of Iran’s strategic assertiveness, or who believed that Israel’s air superiority left it invincible in its own skies.

In the space of several hours, Israel downed what it said was an Iranian drone that had penetrated its airspace, then struck back at what it called the command-and-control center in Syria from which Iran launched the drone. An Israeli F-16, returning from the attack, crashed in northern Israel after coming under heavy Syrian antiaircraft fire — the first Israeli jet downed under enemy fire in decades.

Israel responded with strikes against eight Syrian and four Iranian targets in Syrian territory.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the day’s events as proof of Israel’s resolve. “Yesterday we dealt severe blows to the Iranian and Syrian forces,” he said Sunday. “We made it unequivocally clear to everyone that our rules of action have not changed one bit. We will continue to strike at every attempt to strike at us.”

But strategists and military analysts in Israel did not see things quite so simply. As both sides sift through the debris, here are some important points:

This isn’t over. It’s just beginning.

As the Syrian civil war winds down, a new conflict is emerging among Iran, which appears to want a lasting Syrian base to threaten Israel; Israel, which is determined to prevent this; and the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, which showed renewed confidence in firing on Israel’s warplanes.

“We are seeing a renegotiation of the rules of the game with regard to the kind of military activity that each side tolerates in the other,” said Ofer Zalzberg, an analyst at International Crisis Group. “We will see more and more friction between the parties, given that we are seeing more and more this sense that Assad has the upper hand” against Syrian rebels.

Neither side can be expected to back down.

Israel believes it is vital to stop Iran, Hezbollah or other Shiite militias from threatening it with precision rockets from faraway corners of Syria, or with artillery and troops just beyond the disputed Golan Heights.

And Iran does not want its investment in rescuing Mr. Assad to have been for naught, and to have to bring its forces home, said Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council. “If Iran would move back to its bases, then Assad will have gotten what he wanted, the Russians will have gotten what they wanted — but what about them?”

Israel alone can’t stop Iran in Syria.

Israel has stopped neighboring countries from building nuclear facilities, but it has never tried to stop one from building up a conventional force, Mr. Eiland said. And it is unlikely, on its own, to succeed, even if it manages to slow down Iran’s efforts.

What Israel can do, Mr. Eiland said, is punish the Assad government for Iran’s buildup.

“We destroyed some Syrian targets, and that might create some tension between Bashar Assad and the Iranians,” Mr. Eiland said. “Assad is not interested in the Iranian presence; he just cannot say no to it. But if he and his regime are paying more of a price, maybe he can ask Iran to stop, or lean on the Russians to help.”

With the Trump administration looking to reopen the nuclear deal with Iran, Mr. Eiland said, Israel could try to bring its own security concerns into the mix of a new negotiation.

“The Americans and Europeans want to prevent Iranian long-range missiles from reaching Europe,” he said. “But from the Israeli point of view, Iran already has missiles that can cover Israel, so that’s much less important than Iran’s presence in Syria.”

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US MIM-104 Patriot missile batteries (air defense system) loaded onto general cargo vessel ‘EIT PALOMA’ (under Antigua and Barbuda flag) in Germany (very probably) bound for Middle East

The Syrian government said on Thursday that a U.S. military presence in Syria represented an “aggression” against Syrian sovereignty, and vowed to free the country from any “illegitimate” foreign presence.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry statement was a response to a speech by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday in which he signalled that U.S. forces would stay in parts of Syria indefinitely.

“The American military presence on Syrian land is illegitimate and represents a blatant breach of international law and an aggression against national sovereignty,” the statement said.

Syria would continue its “relentless war against terrorist movements with their different names until every inch of Syrian soil is cleansed” and would work with “the same determination” to free Syria of any “illegitimate foreign presence”.

Tillerson signalled an open-ended military presence as part of a broader strategy to prevent Islamic State’s resurgence, pave the way diplomatically for the eventual departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and curtail Iran’s
influence.

The United States has around 2,000 military personnel in Syria, deployed as part of the U.S.-led coalition’s campaign against Islamic State. The Syrian Foreign Ministry statement said the government was not in need of U.S. dollars “stained with the blood of Syrians”.

Read More At:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-usa/syrian-government-u-s-military-presence-in-syria-is-act-of-aggression-idUSKBN1F70YL

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Iranian forces deploy some tanks (probably UK made Chieftain FV4201) near the city of Shiraz

Ten people have been killed overnight in anti-government protests sweeping Iran, according to state TV.

The demonstrations, which erupted on Thursday in Iran’s second city of Mashhad, are the biggest show of dissent seen since the huge rallies of the Green Movement were brutally suppressed in 2009.

Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli-Larijani called for a crackdown on “rioters” and “vandals” on Monday, according to state television.

“Some individuals are exploiting the situation. This is wrong,” he said.

State TV said armed protesters had tried to take over some police stations and military bases, but faced serious resistance from security forces.

Read More At:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42532784

 

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Video reportedly shows Iranian forces moving towards Mashhad, but the convoy would seem trasporting Russian-made S-300 missile systems (Air Defence), is Tehran fearing something bigger than a protest?

Iranian police warned antigovernment protesters against staging new rallies after arresting dozens of demonstrators in Tehran and the western city Kermanshah, even as the United States called for a “peaceful transition” of government in Iran.

Speaking on December 29 after a second day of protests against price hikes that turned political and spread to multiple Iranian cities, Mohsen Hamadani, a deputy governor of Tehran Province, was quoted by state media as saying that law enforcement agencies would take tough measures against any future gatherings.

“There is no authorization for such protests,” he was quoted as saying.

Despite the warning from Iranian authorities, the U.S. State Department and White House issued statements condemning the arrests and demanding that Tehran allow free expression by the protesters.

“There are many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with the regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

“The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights, including their right to express themselves. The world is watching,” she said.

The State Department’s spokeswoman said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was personally urging support for what he has described as “elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of government.”

“We urge all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption,” said spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

The protesters got some encouragement from Iranian clergy as well.

“Their protests, as well as other people’s reaction to high prices, are unquestionaby just,” said Ahmad Alam al-Hoda, a Friday prayer-leader and mid-ranking cleric in Iran’s second most populous city, Masshad, where the protests began on December 28.

But al-Hoda also questioned whether the protests weren’t also providing “food for hostile media” whose goal is “propagating sedition,” using terms often used to described independent news outlets.

In an unprecedented comment, the head of Mashhad’s revolutionary court, Hossein Haydari, said: “We consider protest to be the people’s right, but if some people want to abuse these emotions and ride this wave, we won’t wait and will confront them.”

Other clerics condemned the protests as “anti-Islam” and said Israel and the United States were behind them.

But the demonstrators were urged on by the exiled former Crown Prince of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, who said that “the uprising, once again showed that overthrowing theocracy in Iran is a national demand.”

Earlier on December 29 in Kermanshah, semiofficial news agencies Fars and Mehr reported that police dispersed a rally of some 300 people who chanted “Political prisoners should be freed” and “Freedom or death.”

Unconfirmed reports say that that up to 50 people were arrested in a demonstration in Kermanshah, on December 29, a day after hundreds protested against high prices and shouted political slogans in Mashhad.

Footage on social media showed protesters in Kermanshah’s central Azadi Square chanting “”Death to the dictator” and “The nation is struggling in poverty; The leader is trying to act as God.”

Various chants appeared to target both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, without naming him, and President Hassan Rohani.

Similar protests were reported in several other cities, including Rasht, Ahvaz, Ghazvin, Qom, Esfahan, and Hamadan among others.

Read More At:

https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-rallies-price-protests-kermanshah-mashhad/28945966.html

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What is the need for the US to develop another big military base when ISIS is facing near total defeat in Syria?

Future plans of the United States regarding the Syrian crisis include maintaining a military presence in the country and establishing a new local government in areas where the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is predominantly led by the PKK’s Syrian affiliate People’s Protection Units (YPG), have been trained, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

According to the U.S. daily, the Trump administration does not want to leave the stage to the Assad regime after the Daesh terror group is completely defeated in the country.

This intention was interpreted in the piece as a “potentially open-ended commitment that could draw the U.S. into conflict with both Syria and Iran.”

The Washington Post also cited U.S. officials as saying that the current presence in Syria would be used in favor of the SDF, fearing that an “abrupt withdrawal” could lead to the Assad regime’s political survival.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also said last week that the country intended to set the right conditions for a “diplomatic solution” in the area.

“We’re not just going to walk away right now,” he added.

According to official figures, 503 U.S. soldiers are currently stationed in Syria with the aim of training the PKK’s Syrian offshoot-dominated SDF. However, experts claim that the actual number is much higher.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Turkey, Iran and Russia agreed on holding a Syrian People’s Congress to find a permanent solution to the Syrian crisis during a trilateral meeting in the coastal Russian city of Sochi.

Turkey, Russia and Iran are the guarantor countries that brokered a cease-fire in Syria in December 2016, leading to the Astana talks, which are running parallel to the Geneva talks for peace in Syria. The three countries have carried out negotiations in the Kazakh capital since then and agreed on the formation of five de-escalation zones in Syria.

Syria has been locked in a deadly civil war since early 2011, after the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with brutality, leading to the death of thousands of people and to the displacement of more than 10 million others.

Read More At:

https://www.dailysabah.com/syrian-crisis/2017/11/23/us-intends-to-maintain-military-presence-in-syria-after-daesh-defeat

While the Trump administration celebrates a new deal meant to freeze the battlefield in southern Syria, the Assad regime and Iran are preparing for the next phase of the long-running war, in which they will attempt to re-conquer the rest of the country. Whether Iran succeeds depends largely on whether the United States acknowledges and then counters that strategy.

Tehran is pouring thousands of fighters into newly acquired territories and building military bases. Although U.S.-supported forces hold territories east of the Euphrates River in Syria’s southeast, as well as along the borders of Israel and Jordan in the southwest, Iran has stated its intention to help Bashar al-Assad retake all of Syria.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani has been recently spotted in the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zour, showing how high a priority it is for Iran to take the oil-rich land nearby. Soleimani has also been spotted near the town of Abu Kamal, which sits just across the border from the Iraqi city of Qaim and is the last piece of the land bridge Iran seeks to establish from Tehran to Beirut.

Read More At:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/the-us-must-prepare-for-irans-next-move-in-syria/2017/11/19/c8ee0906-cbc0-11e7-8321-481fd63f174d_story.html?utm_term=.a686ced9f8f1

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