Archive for December 5, 2019

Explosion strikes Iranian weapons depot in Syria 

December 5, 2019

Source: Explosion strikes Iranian weapons depot in Syria – report – Jerusalem Post

No information about the extent of the damage or any casualties has been reported.

Aerial view of the new Iranian border crossing between Syria and Iraq (photo credit: IMAGESAT INTERNATIONAL (ISI))
Aerial view of the new Iranian border crossing between Syria and Iraq
(photo credit: IMAGESAT INTERNATIONAL (ISI))
Large explosions were reported at an Iranian base in Al-Bukamal in eastern Syria after unidentified aircraft targeted a weapons depot at the site, according to the Step news agency.
A correspondent for Step reported that Iranian militias fired anti-aircraft fire at a reconnaissance aircraft that was spotted shortly before the attack. Shortly afterwards, unidentified aircraft attacked the weapons depot and large explosions were heard and fire could be seen from a distance.
No information about the extent of the damage or any casualties has been reported.
During a visit to Lisbon, Portugal on Wednesday in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Netanyahu pointed to Iranian activity in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Gaza and Yemen, and said that Israel is “actively engaged in countering that aggression.”

When asked about the recent explosions heard in a Syrian weapons facility, Netanyahu chose to evade the question by saying “I don’t comment on these kinds of things.”

Sites controlled by Iran in the Al-Bukamal area have been targeted multiple times by airstrikes in recent months. A strategic border crossing between Iraq and Syria is located in the border town.
In November, the IDF struck tens of targets in Damascus, west of Damascus and the Syrian Golan Heights, belonging both to the regime of Bashar Assad and the Quds Force, within minutes in response to rockets that were launched towards Israel. All the targets were located within 80 km. of Israel’s border.
According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), 23 people, including 16 non-Syrians, most likely Iranians, were killed in the Israeli airstrikes. A senior Israeli defense official acknowledged that there were wounded and a number of Iranian fatalities. Numerous others were wounded, including a young woman who was wounded by shrapnel that hit the suburb of Qudsaya, west of Damascus.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said following the strikes that “the rules have changed: Anyone who shoots at the State of Israel during the day will not sleep at night. Like last week and now this week. Our message to Iran’s leaders is simple: You are no longer immune. Wherever you stretch your tentacles – we will hack them off. The IDF will continue to protect Israeli citizens.”

Iranian forces and militias loyal to them are fortifying their positions in the Deir ez-Zor area in eastern Syria where Al-Bukamal is located, according to the SOHR. In September, at least 37 militants were killed in two airstrikes which also destroyed vehicles, ammunition depots, weapons and buildings in the Al-Bukamal area. Many of those killed were of Iraqi nationality.
In September, Fox News reported that Iran was building a classified military base near Al-Bukamal, less than 200 miles from an American position, with the intention of housing thousands of troops.
According to the report, the classified Iranian project is called the Imam Ali compound and is being completed by the IRGC. At least five different, newly constructed buildings surrounded by large dirt mounds could house precision missiles, Fox said. The other 10 less fortified storehouses in the base will likely hold ammunition.
The attacks in the Al-Bukamal area have been blamed on both Israel and Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi fighter jets have been spotted along with other fighter jets that have attacked facilities and positions belonging to Iranian militias,” said an unnamed source to the Independent in Arabic. The attacks targeted positions belonging to the Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in Albukamal and other areas near the Iraq-Syria border.
Saudi sources later denied the report, according to the Independent.
On September 9, airstrikes allegedly carried out by Israel destroyed a military base in the area under Iranian control, according to the SOHR.
Rockets were fired at Israel from the outskirts of Damascus by a Shi’ite militia operating under the command of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds Force after the attack on September 9.
Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post Staff and Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.

 

US seizes Iranian guided missile parts headed to Yemen 

December 5, 2019

Source: US seizes Iranian guided missile parts headed to Yemen – report – Jerusalem Post

US officials are considering deploying more naval ships and up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East in order to fight against Iranian hostilities as early as this month.

Missiles and drone aircrafts are seen on display at an exhibition at an unidentified location in Yemen in this undated handout photo released by the Houthi Media Office (photo credit: HOUTHI MEDIA OFFICE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Missiles and drone aircrafts are seen on display at an exhibition at an unidentified location in Yemen in this undated handout photo released by the Houthi Media Office
(photo credit: HOUTHI MEDIA OFFICE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
A U.S. Navy warship seized advanced missile parts believed to be linked to Iran from a boat it had stopped in the Arabian Sea, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, as Trump’s administration pressures Tehran to curb its activities in the region.
In a statement, the Pentagon confirmed that on Nov. 25 a U.S. warship found “advanced missile components” on a stateless vessel and an initial investigation indicated the parts were of Iranian origin.
“A more thorough investigation is underway,” the statement said.
U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the guided missile destroyer Forrest Sherman detained a small boat and a detachment of U.S. personnel boarded the vessel, where the missile parts were found.
The crew on the small boat have been transferred to the Yemeni Coast Guard and the missile parts are in the possession of the United States, the officials added.
One of the officials said they believed from initial information that the weapons were bound for Iran-aligned Houthi fighters in Yemen.
In recent years, U.S. warships have intercepted and seized Iranian arms likely bound for Houthi fighters. The official said this was different, citing the advanced nature of the parts.
Under a United Nations resolution, Tehran is prohibited from supplying, selling or transferring weapons outside the country unless approved by the Security Council. A separate U.N. resolution on Yemen bans the supply of weapons to Houthi leaders.
The Houthis have built their arsenal using local manufacturing, foreign expertise and parts smuggled in from Iran, their ally, and elsewhere. The conflict in Yemen is seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
A senior Pentagon official said earlier on Wednesday there were indications that Iran could potentially carry out aggressive actions in the future.
Tensions in the Gulf have risen since attacks on oil tankers this summer, including off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, and a major assault on energy facilities in Saudi Arabia. Washington has blamed Iran, which has denied being behind the attacks.
Since May, the Pentagon has sent 14,000 additional troops to the region to deter Iran.
U.S. officials told Reuters there were ongoing conversations about potentially adding additional U.S. troops in the Middle East, but that no decisions have been made and plans were fluid.

US officials are considering deploying more naval ships and up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East in order to fight against Iranian hostilities, reported the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. An announcement about the matter is expected as early as this month.

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.

 

PM: Israel ‘actively countering Iranian aggression’ 

December 5, 2019

Source: PM: Israel ‘actively countering Iranian aggression’ – Jerusalem Post

Arabic news outlets report explosion of IRGC arms depot on Syria-Iraq border

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Lisbon, December 4, 2019 (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Lisbon, December 4, 2019
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
LISBON – Israel is working to stop Iranian belligerence throughout the Middle East, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday in Lisbon, at the start of his meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the Portuguese capital.
Netanyahu made the statement hours after Arab news outlets reported an explosion in an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) weapons depot at an airport near al-Bukamal on the Syria-Iraq border, but declined to answer questions on the matter.
“We’ve been fortunate that [US President Donald Trump] has a consistent policy of pressure against Iran,” Netanyahu said.
Pointing to Iranian activity in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Gaza and Yemen, Netanyahu said Israel is “actively engaged in countering that aggression.”
Pompeo made brief comments in support of protesters against Iran.
“I flew in from being with the president in London, where… one of the central topics was how to create stability in the Middle East, with anti-Iran protests in Baghdad, Beirut and Iran itself,” Pompeo said. “These are people seeking freedom and a reasonable way to live.”
“We’ll do everything we can to create opportunity for these people who want freedom,” he stated.
Netanyahu told Pompeo: “You took the words out of my mouth. The Iranian empire is tottering; let’s make it totter further.”
The prime minister said he “excoriated” the six European countries “trying to sidestep the sanctions the US under President Trump placed. That’s the wrong thing.”
Netanyahu also said he will talk to Pompeo about “the ability to strengthen our mutual defenses even further,” a reference to a possible defense pact between the US and Israel.
He also expressed gratitude to Pompeo for his statement that the US no longer sees settlements as illegitimate.
“Advancing peace has to be based on truth, not lies,” he stated.
Though earlier in the day Netanyahu said he would discuss applying Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley in his meeting with Pompeo, the two refused to answer questions on the matter.
“It’s a very good place,” is all Netanyahu would say.
On the plane to Lisbon, Netanyahu said the US policy or pressure on Iran is successfully weakening the regime.
“Their economic resources are stressed. The economic problems are creating political problems,” he said.
Netanyahu said that Trump has taken his advice on his Iran policy and took credit for preventing the meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that French President Emmanuel Macron tried to organize.
The prime minister pointed to protests in Tehran, Beirut and Iraq as results of sanctions on Iran.
“There’s no reason to help [Iran],” Netanyahu said, referring to European countries trying to circumvent sanctions. “Instead, we should increase pressure.”
Netanyahu referred to a defense pact between Israel and the US with Pompeo on the flight.
“This is a great thing for Israel. I know there are disagreements… but I think it’s the right thing that will address what we need,” he stated.
Netanyahu plans to meet with Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa and Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva on Thursday.
While Netanyahu was in Portugal, the country became the 34th full member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, after the Luxembourg-based organization voted to upgrade it from observer status.