Iran will fund a multi-million- dollar army base on Syria’s coast to funnel
military equipment to the beleaguered regime of President Bashar Assad,
Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported on Friday.
The report comes amid
growing diplomatic pressure on Damascus, violent suppressing a five-month
popular uprising, from neighboring Turkey as well as from the United
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Quoting Western intelligence reports, the Daily Telegraph
the deal to build a base near Latakia was struck in June between Muhammad Nasif
Kheirbek – Syria’s deputy vice president for security affairs and a close Assad
ally – and Ghasem Suleimani, commander of the elite Quds Force of Iran’s
Western diplomats have accused Tehran of sending
riotcontrol and intelligence-gathering equipment, as well as fuel, to help Assad
quash the unrest.
Syria is the only Arab regime closely allied with the
Teams of Revolutionary Guard officers are to be
stationed at Latakia on a permanent basis, where they will coordinate the arms
shipments with officials from Syria’s Mukhabarat intelligence service.
similar joint command center was set up at Damascus international airport
earlier this year, but Latakia is regarded as a more suitable destination as it
is not subjected to the same level of scrutiny as Damascus.
the main city of the northern coastal region where Assad’s minority Alawite
community is rooted.
The new base will cost around $23 million, and be
designed to handle arms shipments including machine guns, rockets and
“The direct route is being set up to make it
easier to pass advanced Iranian weapons and equipment to Syria,” a senior
Western security official told the Daily Telegraph
Last week, Turkish
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu confirmed that his country had seized a truck
full of weapons traveling from Iran to Syria. The seizure on April 30 on the
Turkish- Syrian border was made public this month by the German newspaper
In March, Turkey seized the cargo of an Iranian
plane bound for Syria because the shipment violated UN sanctions.
media reported that an Iranian plane, bound for the Syrian city of Aleppo, was
forced to make a “technical stop” in southeast Turkey. Turkish officials found
that equipment listed as “auto spare parts” on the plane’s documents were a
consignment of weapons, including assault rifles, machine guns and mortars.