Archive for the ‘Iran – Syria war’ category

Moscow: US-backed SDF faces “destruction.” Pro-Iranian Iraqi force crosses into Syria

September 21, 2017

Moscow: US-backed SDF faces “destruction.” Pro-Iranian Iraqi force crosses into Syria, DEBKAfile, September 21, 2017

Israel’s strategic situation took several steps back in the first week of the New Year, chiefly: The US pulled back from E. Syria under Russian threat, allowing Iran to move in.

In just one week, the dire perils, which many military and political experts warned against for years, are suddenly looming on Israel’s northern border.

        1. From Sept.15-17, Syrian and Hizballah forces crossed the Euphrates to the eastern bank on pontoon bridges provided by Russia.
        2. Last Saturday, Sept. 16, Russian jets bombed the US-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) in the Deir ez-Zour region, as a warning against their obstructing the eastward impetus of those Syrian and Hizballah units.
        3. On Monday, Sept. 18, US Marines began blowing up buildings at the Zaqaf military base in eastern Syria and then retreating to the Jordanian border. The US set up Zaqaf early this year in the Syrian Desert as a barrier against this very Syrian/Hizballah crossing to impede their advance to the Syrian-Iraqi border.
        4. The following day, on the heels of the US withdrawal, Hizballah troops took charge of the Zaqaf base.
        5. On Wednesday, Sept. 19, the Iraqi Hashd Al-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilization Units – PMU) crossed into Syria and linked up with the Syrian-Hizballah force. The PMU is under the direct command of Gen. Qassam Soleimani, head of Iranian military operations in Syria and Iraq.
        6. Iran, through its Iraqi, Lebanese and other foreign Shiite pawns, is now in control of 230km of the Syrian border, from Abu Kamal (still held by ISIS) in the north, to Al Tanf in the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border triangle in the south – where, too, US and coalition special forces have begun packing up ready to exit.
          Iran in recent years imported some 20,000 Afghan and Pakistani Shiite fighters to reinforce the Syrian army and Hizballah in their battles for Bashar Assad. The new Iraq arrivals boost that figure by tens of thousands and more are coming in all the time.
        7. On Thursday, Sept. 21, the growing disconnect between Moscow and Washington over Syria suddenly erupted into an open breach with a crude threat from the Kremlin: “Russia has officially informed the United States via a special communications channel that Russian forces will strike immediately US-backed forces if they attack or shell Syrian or Russian task forces operating near the Deir Ez-Zour city. Any attempts at shelling from the areas where the militants of the Syrian Democratic Forces are based will be immediately curbed. Russian forces will suppress firing points in these areas using all means of destruction.”

      A threat of this degree of ruthlessness has not been encountered in the Middle East for decades, it may recall Moscow’s threat to Israel in 1956 to end its invasion of the Sinai without delay or else…

      Where do these menacing steps leave Israel?

        • The US has washed its hands of central and southeastern Syria.
        • Russia is wholly, unreservedly and openly in lockstep with the Syrian army, Iran and Hizballah in all their objectives in the war-torn country, and moreover, willing to threaten any pro-American entity with total military punishment. Is this an indirect message to Israel too?
          Iraqi Shiite forces are surging into Syria; they have given Tehran the gift of control of a 230km segment of the border.

      And what does the IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott have to say about all this?  In an interview to Israeli media as recently as Wednesday, Sept. 19, when it was all happening, he said: “If Iran  does entrench itself in Syria, that will be bad news for the entire region, including the moderate Sunni camp, and even more for the countries of Europe.”

He went on to explain: “That is why we have given the Iranian threat and halting its expanding influence very high priority as an issue to be dealt with.”

Gen. Eisenkott underlined the IDF’s focus as being to prevent [Israel’s foes] from obtaining weaponry, i.e. missiles – of high targeting precision.

The trouble is that, while the IDF focuses on this objective, commendable in itself, Russia and Iran are focusing and in full flight on a far wider-ranging goal, the precise and systematic deepening of Iran’s military presence in Syria. Iran and Hizballah have already established military commands at Arnaba just 6 km from Israel’s Golan border.

Yet the IDF chief is still talking about this as an untoward event that may – or may not – come some time in the future.

Shoigu in Damascus, Tehran for anti-ISIS drive

September 13, 2017

Shoigu in Damascus, Tehran for anti-ISIS drive, DEBKAfile, September 13, 2017

Our military sources point out that now, because ISIS is concentrating on battering the Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces and stalled their advance to the Euphrates Valley, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, consisting mainly of Syrian Kurdish fighters from the YPG militia, have found that the road from Raqqa to Deir Ez-Zour is open and are overtaking the Russian-backed forces. The SDF is advancing rapidly with US helicopters providing them with fuel so their vehicles can press forward.

Ahead may be decision to commit more Russian military forces to the war against ISIS or explore a path to a breakthrough in talks with the Americans.


After a tense conversation with Bashar Assad in Damascus Tuesday, Sept. 12, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources discovered the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had flown secretly to Tehran the next day. He then proceeded directly to Sochi to brief President Vladimir Putin on his mission, which was to pull together the Russian-backed Syrian-Iranian-Hizballah operations against ISIS on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that Shoigu’s visits capped this effort by Moscow.

The bright prospects of success in breaking the ISIS’ long siege of Deir ez-Zour announced at the beginning of the week dimmed on Tuesday and Wednesday, when the claims of a major victory proved unexpectedly premature.

As of Wednesday evening, Syrian army units were still locked in battle for control of the main road from Damascus to Deir Ez-Zour, and were still about 15km away from the city. Reports that the ISIS siege on the large Syrian airbase adjoining Deir Ez-Zour had been lifted were also premature.  On Wednesday night, ISIS forces were still attacking the base’s perimeter in an attempt to break through.

In other words, the lofty claims in recent days by senior Russian officers, President Assad and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, claiming the war was won, aside from small scattered battles, were over-hasty.

Our military sources point out that now, because ISIS is concentrating on battering the Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces and stalled their advance to the Euphrates Valley, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, consisting mainly of Syrian Kurdish fighters from the YPG militia, have found that the road from Raqqa to Deir Ez-Zour is open and are overtaking the Russian-backed forces. The SDF is advancing rapidly with US helicopters providing them with fuel so their vehicles can press forward.

As of Wednesday evening, the SDF was just 6 km away from Deir Ez-Zour, ahead of the Russian-backed armies which were taking the brunt of ISIS attacks.

When he saw this happening, Russian President Putin sent his defense minister over to Damascus and Tehran to look for ways to break through to the next operations scheduled for attacking ISIS strongholds on the Syrian-Iraqi border. Ahead may be decision to commit more Russian military forces to the war against ISIS or explore a path to a breakthrough in talks with the Americans..

US set to quit Al Tanf. Pro-Iranian force moves in

September 8, 2017

US set to quit Al Tanf. Pro-Iranian force moves in, DEBKAfile, September 8, 2017

While Israeli jets were bombing the Syrian CERS chemical facility at Masyaf, 38km west of the central Syrian town of Hama, early Thursday, Sept 7,  control of the Syrian-Iraqi border to the east was quietly changing hands.

DEBKAfile tracks the ongoing process:

  • Washington was winding up discussions with Moscow on terms for US special forces to evacuate the Al Tanf post they were holding in the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian triangle and hand it over to the Syrian army.Quitting Al Tanf is tantamount to the US withdrawal from southeastern Syria and its handover to Syria and its allies, including Hizballah.
  • US-backed Syrian rebel units are also about to leave their posts in the southern town of Daraa, having completed negotiations for a deal with the Russian officers manning this de-escalation zone and Hizballah officers. They have agreed to hand in their weapons and either join up with Syrian government units or disperse.. For the first time in the Syrian civil war, Hizballah announced an important development in the name of Russia.
  • Units of Tehran’s Iraqi surrogate, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Thursday night began crossing the border and taking up positions in southeastern Syria. The PMU, although formally integrated in the Iraqi national army, takes its orders from Iran’s supreme Middle East commander, the Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
  • Early Friday, Sept. 8, Damascus issued a warning to the US and Kurdish forces fighting to liberate Raqqa from the Islamic State, not to continue southeast towards the ISIS stronghold at Abu Kamal. This was the announcement: “The Syrian Army High Command views the liberation of the Deir Ez-Zour border city of Abu Kamal as an imperative military endeavor that cannot be dictated by the US Coalition and their allies.”
  • The connotation of this Syrian announcement is obvious: With the way clear for Syrian and Hizballah troops to move into the al-Tanf post, only Abu Kamal remains to be captured for them to achieve full command of all 600km of the Syrian-Iraqi border. Tehran’s key strategic objective of an open land corridor through Iraq to Syria and the Mediterranean will then be in the bag.

Thursday night, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, while ducking confirmation of the Israeli air strike in Masyaf, affirmed instead: “We shall not allow the formation of a Shiite corridor from Iran to Lebanon.”

He was followed by Israeli Military Intelligence (AMAN) commander Maj. Gen. Hertzi Levy, who said “We are dealing resolutely with the threats against us.”

Unfortunately, neither of these declarations appears to correlate with the real events unfolding nearby in southeastern Syria. Predominantly hostile powers are carving out new, strategic facts in that region, which pose great harm to Israel’s national security.

Iran/Hizballah noose tightens around Israel

September 1, 2017

Iran/Hizballah noose tightens around Israel, DEBKAfile, September 1, 2017

Seen from the strategic-military angle, Israel can be said to have regressed 11 years to 2006, when two foes were poised menacingly on its northern and southern borders. Israel was then compelled to fight a war against Hizballah in Lebanon. This time, the conflict could potentially flare up simultaneously on three fronts – Lebanon, Gaza and Syria.


Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, challenged the international community to hold Iran to account on Thursday, Aug. 31, after the Islamic Republic showed its “true colors” by restoring its ties with the Palestinian extremist Hamas. In her statement, she described as “stunning” the Hamas leader’s boast that Tehran is again the biggest provider of money and arms. The breach between them followed the terrorist group’s refusal to side with Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war.

“Iran must decide whether it wants to be a member of the community of nations that can be expected to take its international obligations seriously, or whether it wants to be the leader of a jihadist terrorist movement. It cannot be both,” Haley said in her statement.

Islamic Iran has long made that decision, as the ambassador knows very well from the intelligence reports she sees. But her brave words were meant as a wakeup call for the rapid advances made by Iran and Hizballah during August to impose their will on the Middle East, often with great stealth.

Haley will have learned about the Aug. 2 meeting in Beirut between Hamas’s military chief Salah al-Arouri and Iranian officials, following which Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah confirmed that the Palestinian rulers of the Gaza Strip were worthy of restored military and financial aid.

That deal was clinched at the highest level in Tehran, after Arouri and a delegation from Gaza were received by top Iranian officials, including Revolutionary Guards General Qassem Soleimani. He is not only commander of Iran’s Middle East warfronts, but also head of Al Qods, which runs Iran’s intelligence, subversion and terror networks.

These events and their ramifications were itemized in the latest issue of DEBKA Weekly, out Friday, Sept. 1.

It was Soleimani who assigned Hamas and its military arm with its next tasks. Since both parties are dedicated to violent tactics (terror) to achieve their ends, one of which is the destruction of the State of Israel, all that remains to be seen is the precise form the Iranian-backed Hamas-Hizballah partnership will take – and where. Those practicalities were aired at the secret sessions between Hamas and Al Qods in Tehran

Present at some of those sessions were also Soleimani’s secret agents and heads of the terrorist networks he runs across the Middle East and in the Gulf emirates.

The inauguration ceremony for Hassan Rouhani’s second term as Iran’s president on Aug. 5 provided a convenient cover for these get-togethers.

Nikki Haley’s warning to the international community was prompted by these dangerous events. Although her words were powerful, telling and timely, it is hard to see any sign of their being followed up by other parts of the Trump administration.

With the southern front against Israel in the bag, Iran and Hizballah this week put together its northern front, just two or three kilometers from Israel’s Golan border with Syria. This could not have happened without the Trump administration submitting to Russia’s demand to revise their de-escalation zone project for the Syrian Golan, so that Iranian and Hizballah forces are no longer required to distance themselves 40-50km from the zone, but only 8km.

Iran and Hizballah in Syria have in consequence been quietly shortening their distance from the Israeli border. But this week, they made a major leap forward, when the Russian monitors brought a group of Iranian and Hizballah officers all the way to Quneitra. There, they were given a base under Russian protection within sight of the Israeli Golan.

Tehran and its pawn therefore used the month of August to climb into position for drawing a noose around Israel and tightening it at will.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this week boasted that his tenure was marked by relative calm. Israel, he said, had successfully avoided getting embroiled in any major war.

That is correct. However, his policy of preserving the calm and maintaining a purely defensive stance has carried a price. That price was totted up on Sept. 1. By then, Iran and Iran had been able to move unopposed into position on Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon in the north and had crept up to the Gaza border in the south.

Seen from the strategic-military angle, Israel can be said to have regressed 11 years to 2006, when two foes were poised menacingly on its northern and southern borders. Israel was then compelled to fight a war against Hizballah in Lebanon. This time, the conflict could potentially flare up simultaneously on three fronts – Lebanon, Gaza and Syria.

Iran, operating from Syria, will destroy Europe and North America

August 28, 2017

Iran, operating from Syria, will destroy Europe and North America, Israel National News, Dr. Mordechai Kedar, August 27, 2017

(In most places where the American military is currently involved, Muslims are fighting other Muslims. If Israel is put at risk it is quite likely that America will intervene to help her, if an anti-Israel government does not return to power. — DM) 

This ethnic cleansing is the Ayatollah’s dream come true, the dream that sees a Shiite crescent drawn from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea. This will cover the eastern Arab world from the north, while the war in Yemen is being fought in order to create a parallel southern crescent, entrapping Saudi Arabia and Jordan between the two. With the help of Allah, both those countries and Israel, the Small Satan, will soon fall into the hands of the Shiites, while Europe and America do nothing because who cares when Muslims fight other Muslims?


Iran and Russia plan to destroy Western Europe, the US and Canada by means of a new wave of millions of Syrian Sunnis fleeing to the West to escape the Shiite takeover of Syria.

In my weekly column two months ago, I claimed that Iran is the real victor in the Syrian civil war.  Using the war against ISIS as a smokescreen, it is taking over large swathes of Syrian territory, mainly in the scarcely populated middle and eastern parts of the country. In the more fertile and densely populated west of Syria, there are  Iraqi, Afghan, and Iranian Shiite militias augmenting  Lebanese Hezbollah fighters who were given carte blanche to do whatever Hassan Nasrallah decides to do there.

Assad’s strength continues to increase as ISIS and the other rebel forces lose ground.  The brutality of Russian involvement and the cruelty of Shiite militias overcame the anti-Assad forces, the turning point occurring when in 2015, Turkey’ s Erdogan was forced by Russia to cease his aid to the rebels and ISIS. Today, although Erdogan is an unwilling ally of Russia, Alawite Assad still sees him, justifiably, as an Islamist enemy.

The Kurds of northeast Syria, treated as below third class citizens until 2011, will never agree to live under Arab mercy once again and it is reasonable to assume that should Syria remain an undivided country under Assad’s rule, the Kurds will preserve relative autonomy in their region – or fight the regime for their rights.

That is certainly a problem, but the main issue facing a united Syria is going to be the drastic demographic changes the country is going to face.

First of all, about half of Syria’s citizens – close to 10 million – are refugees, half located in Syria and the other half in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, other Arab countries, Europe, North and South America, Australia and even Israel.  Syrian refugees who reached points outside the Arab world will in all probability stay put, benefitting from the secure and orderly lives they can now lead. On the other hand, the 3.5 million now in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are awaiting the end of hostilities in order to return to their homes.

Those expectations may be dashed, however, because Syrian reality is totally changed, and large parts of its cities are in ruins after six and a half years of a cruel and bloody war.  Countless bombs dropped from planes and helicopters, artillery and tank barrages, mines and explosives planted by both sides have made much of urban Syria, where most of the fighting took place, unsafe to live in. In Homs, Aleppo, Adlib, Hamat and many other cities, entire neighborhoods will have to be razed and their infrastructure rebuilt from scratch. Decades and billions of dollars are needed to rebuild the country and I, for one, do not see the world’s nations standing on line to donate the necessary funds.  Refugees will not agree to switch their tents in Jordan for ruined buildings lacking basic infrastructure in a desolate and destroyed Syria.

The other reason the refugees will not return is their justified fear of the new lords of the land – the Shiites. Iran has been moving Shiites from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan to Syria for a long time in a clear attempt to change the demographic makeup of the country from the Sunni majority it had before the civil war broke out in 2011. The issue could not be more clear because it is no secret that the pre-civil war Sunni majority considered the Alawite rulers heretic idol worshippers who had no right to live in Syria, much less rule over it.

The Alawites know well that the Sunnis rebelled against them twice: The first time was from 1976 to 1982, a rebellion that took the lives of 50,000 citizens. The second time, slowly drawing to an end, has cost the lives of half a million men, women, children and aged citizens of Syria.  The Alawites intend to prevent a third rebellion and the best way to do that is to change the majority of the population to Shiites instead of Sunnis.  They will not allow the Sunni refugees to return to their homes, leaving them eternal refugees whose lands have been taken over by the enemy. Iran, meanwhile, will populate Syria with Shiites from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

This ethnic cleansing is the Ayatollah’s dream come true, the dream that sees a Shiite crescent drawn from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea. This will cover the eastern Arab world from the north, while the war in Yemen is being fought in order to create a parallel southern crescent, entrapping Saudi Arabia and Jordan between the two. With the help of Allah, both those countries and Israel, the Small Satan, will soon fall into the hands of the Shiites, while Europe and America do nothing because who cares when Muslims fight other Muslims?

The Shiite majority in Syria will play along with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, their natural allies, and it is possible that some form of federation might be created between the two in order to push the Lebanese Christians out of the picture, “persuading” them to flee to other countries, leaving Lebanon to its “rightful” Shiite masters. This explains Nasrallah’s eager willingness to fight on Syrian soil as well as the opposition of those against Nasrallah to his involvement there.

The reasons are obvious:

1. Former ISIS and rebel forces will infiltrate along with the refugees, because they, too,  are Sunni. They are filled with fury and hatred for the Western countries  who were part of the coalition that fought ISIS or stood by without aiding the rebels. Some of them will continue their Jihad on European and North American soil. Expect shootings, explosives and ramming attacks against citizens of these countries.

2. Some of the refugees will not find work and live on the economic and social fringes of society, in poverty-stricken Islamist neighborhoods which have already existed for years in many European cities, and where the local police fear to tread. Poverty and life on the fringe of society will turn some of the Muslim young people into easy prey for terrorist organization recruiters who arouse the desire for Jihad by describing the accepting host countries as decadent societies infected with permissiveness, prostitution, alcohol, drugs, materialism and corruption.  They present the countries that allowed the immigrants entry as having done so to take advantage of them as industrial slaves, garage hands, cashiers and other degrading occupations, while the privileged citizens are lawyers, accountant, businessmen and homeowners who take advantage of the migrants in humiliating ways. It is only a matter of time until young Muslims, especially those who were taught that “everyone is equal” in Western schools, enlist in terrorist organizations.

3. Countries which allow in refugees will suffer a higher crime rate as a result, including violence in public places, sexual attacks and harassment, housebreaking, car theft, substance abuse, unreported work to avoid paying taxes and illegal construction. This will all occur at the same time these countries expend a larger part of their budgets on social services for the refugees, from child allowances to unemployment, health and old age benefits. At this point in time, the percentage of second and third generation immigrants populating the prisons in Western Europe is significantly larger than their percentage in the general population.

4. Increased economic, social and security problems in Europe and North America as a result of the rise in the number of migrants will lead to a rise in the strength of the right and the extreme right.  This will in turn lead to more social tensions in the West. Members of Parliament whose only wish is to be re-elected will adapt their parliamentary activity – especially the laws they promote – to the expectations of the rapidly Islamizing constituencies, sacrificing their own people’s interests on the altar of their political careers. Many Europeans, aware of their elected leaders’ betrayal, will despair and leave those socially and economically deteriorating countries. This will increase the rate at which Europe turns into an Islamic region..

And that is how the agreements Iran and Russia will soon coerce Syria into accepting  are going to start a chain reaction increasing the number of refugees and pulling  Europe down to a point of no return, without the world understanding what  is going on. The Atlantic Ocean is not wide enough to protect North America from this debacle crossing the sea.

This is how the Iranian Ayatollahs intend to destroy the heretic, permissive, drunk and materialistic  West.  More of the unfortunate Syrian millions will find themselves exiled to the heretic countries hated by the Ayatollahs, and Iran will operate from Syrian soil to vanquish Europe and America.

Israel’s red lines in Syria long crossed by Iran

August 24, 2017

Israel’s red lines in Syria long crossed by Iran, DEBKAfile, August 23, 2017

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu set out for President Vladimir Putin Israel’s red lines against Iran establishing a permanent, expanded military presence in Syria. This theme dominated their three-hour conversation in Sochi on Wednesday, Aug. 23. Netanyahu stiffened his warning with a veiled threat that should Iran or Hizballah cross those lines, there would be a regional war.

It was the first time that the prime minister had publicly threatened to go to war against Iran and Hizballah. After talking to Putin, he said to reporters that what is new today is Iran’s attempt to “Lebanonize Syria.” in the same way as it seized control of Lebanon through its surrogate, Hizballah. “We are looking at Tehran’s future takeover of Syria through its Shiite militias.

If that happens, “we will not remain passive,” he said – nor if Syria becomes a link in Iran’s overland corridor via Iraq and Syria to Lebanon. And we certainly can’t accept Iranians and Hizballah close to the Golan.

“We told President Putin plainly that we won’t put up with Iran using Syria as a military base for attacking Israel.

Putin, in the part of the meeting to which reporters had access, did not address Netanyahu’s remarks about Iran’s role in Syria, nor his warning of unilateral military action. The Russian president just repeated the standard Moscow line that foreign forces would not stay in Syria at the end of the war, but offered no timetable or guarantees.

The Russian leader would clearly prefer not to see an Israel war against Iran and Hizballah breaking out in Syria, DEBKAfile’s sources say, especially since Russian special forces, naval and air force contingents are deployed there – albeit not in large numbers.

At the same time, he may well find Netanyahu’s strong words useful for boosting Russia’s clout in Syria. If Tehran believes an Israeli war against its forces and Hizballah is potential, it will be in Iran’s interest to strengthen its military ties with Russia so as to gain its military and political backing.

For Putin, this would be a welcome change from the atmosphere of acrimony prevailing for some weeks between Iranian and Russian officers in Syria. Russian colonels have been posted at the most sensitive sectors in Syria, such as Aleppo, Hama, Homs and eastern Damascus. They are taking over both the military and civilian administration there and, in effect, shouldering the Iranian officers aside.

In Iraq, the Iranians seized control of the country from within, by setting up armed militias and getting them integrated in the national army, as Trojan horses. Tehran knows how to manage this ruse on the quiet, without drawing unwanted attention from the powers on the spot.

In Syria, the problem facing Israel is quite different. If Netanyahu shared sensitive intelligence with Putin that he had not known before, he can’t help noticing that Israel’s red lines for Iran’s expansion were crossed months ago, some of them with Russian assistance.

Four instances stand out:

1. Iran and Hizballah have already set up a chain of military bases in Syria – notably in the Qalamoun Mountains on the Syrian-Lebanese border, from which missiles can be launched against Israel.

2. Iran has already won its coveted land bridge through Iraq to Syria. Bashar Assad’s army has taken over whole sections of the Syrian-Iraqi border, and opened the door for pro-Iranian Shiite militias, Hizballah and Iraqi Shiite groups to move into strategic positions on both sides of the border.

3.  Netanyahu warned of the danger of planting an extremist Shiite entity in the heart of the Sunni Muslim region. But this is already underway. On orders from Moscow, the Syrian army’s 5th Corps is in the process of absorbing the pro-Iranian Shiite militias which fought for Assad.

The prime minister did not inform Putin of any timetable for Israeli action. But the Russian leader will take it for granted that the Israeli army will not move into Syria without a nod from the Trump administration in Washington.

For now, Putin and Trump are synchronizing their operations in Syria with better results than Netanyahu’s understanding with the US administration.

Iran Caught Shipping Soldiers to Syria on Commercial Flights in Violation of Nuclear Deal

August 23, 2017

Iran Caught Shipping Soldiers to Syria on Commercial Flights in Violation of Nuclear Deal, Washington Free Beacon, August 23, 2017

New photographs obtained by congressional leaders show Iran shipping militant soldiers to Syria on commercial airline flights, a move that violates the landmark nuclear agreement and has sparked calls from U.S. lawmakers for a formal investigation by the Trump administration, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

Photographs published by a Washington, D.C., think-tank and provided to Congress show Iran using its flagship commercial carrier, Iran Air, to ferry militants to Syria, where they have joined the fight against U.S. forces in the region.

The new photographic evidence has roiled congressional leaders, who accuse Iran of violating the nuclear deal, which prohibits it from using commercial air carriers for military purposes. These lawmakers are demanding the Trump administration investigate the matter and consider imposing new sanctions on Iran.

The release of these photographs allegedly showing Iran Air’s illegal activity comes as top U.S. air carrier manufacturer Boeing moves forward with a multi-billion dollar deal to sell Iran Air a new modern fleet. Many in Congress have opposed the deal due to Iran’s longstanding use of commercial aircraft for military purposes, such as transporting weapons and troops to regional hotspots such as Syria and elsewhere.

Iran Air’s central role in the illicit transportation of militant forces to Syria could complicate Boeing’s efforts to move forward with the sale, which still requires approval from the Trump administration’s Treasury Department.

Congressional leaders are now calling for a suspension of all licenses permitting these sales in light of the new evidence, according to a letter obtained by the Free Beacon.

“Iran’s use of commercial aircraft for military purposes violates international agreements as well as Iranian commitments under the JCPOA,” or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, according to the delegation of lawmakers pushing for an investigation. “We believe these photos mandate a thorough investigation of these practices and a comprehensive review of Iran’s illicit use of commercial aircraft.”

“During this investigation, the United States should suspend current and future licenses for aircraft sales to Iran,” the letter goes on to say.

Those calling for an investigation include Reps. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.), Andy Barr (R., Ken.), and David Reichert (R., Wash.).

“Iran Air has engaged in Iran’s illicit transport of military goods and personnel to Syria since implementation of the” nuclear deal, the lawmakers write.

The Treasury Department has vowed in the past to consider and investigate any new evidence revealing Iran’s illicit use of commercial aircraft. The lawmakers are urging the Trump administration to make good on this promise.

“In light of these assurances to both investigate evidence of Iranian wrongdoing and to re-designate Iranian airlines engaging in sanctionable activity, we strongly urge you to investigate the enclosed photos,” the lawmakers write. “If as a result of your investigation, you find Iran Air guilty of conducting military transports with commercial aircraft, it should be re-designated.”

The new photographs, reportedly taken in 2016 and 2017, show Iranian fighters aboard Iran Air planes on their way to Syria to pick up arms in support of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

The militants are believed to be affiliated with the Fatemiyoun Brigade, an Afghan Shiite militia, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which first disclosed the photographs to Congress.

“These photos seem to display militiamen sitting on seats clearly labeled with the Iran Air logo,” the lawmakers inform the Treasury Department. “These individuals are not Afghani civilians; they are believed to be members of an Iranian-backed militia, trained and funded by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), actively fighting for the Assad regime in the Syria.”

Iran Air is guilty of “facilitating the ongoing atrocities committed against the Syrian people by the Assad regime and its allies,” the lawmakers write.

The issue has become all the more pressing in light of recent attacks by Iranian-backed militias on U.S. forces operating in Syria.

“We strongly urge you to swiftly investigate and conduct a comprehensive review of Iran Air’s role in supporting Iran and the Assad regime militarily, and hold accountable those found guilty of such activity,” the lawmakers write.