Satellite images reveal: Iran building border crossing to smuggle weapons

New strategic border crossing being built at the al-Bukamal crossing between Iraq and Syria

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May 26, 2019 18:43
2 minute read.
Satellite images reveal: Iran building border crossing to smuggle weapons

. (photo credit: IMAGESAT INTERNATIONAL (ISI))

 
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Iran is building a border crossing between Iraq and Syria to facilitate weapons smuggling from Tehran to groups like Hezbollah, satellite images have revealed.

The images, taken by ImageSat International (ISI) last week, show the construction of infrastructure 2.6 km. west of the Al Bukamal Al-Qaim border crossing between the two countries.

While the border crossing has been inactive, the area is under the control of pro-Iranian Shi’ite militias directed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s (IRGC) Quds force.

One image shows a wide square measuring 270 meters by 165 meters, which has been under construction for the past three months. The building may be intended to store vehicles, equipment and weapons.

A neighboring structure was built at the end of 2018. Other new infrastructures, which cross the border, will probably serve to transfer equipment, civilian as well as military, such as weapons.




(photo credit: IMAGESAT INTERNATIONAL (ISI))

In another image, a site is seen flattened inside a compound probably controlled by Iran’s Shi’ite militias. Since the site was bombed on June 18, 2018, debris has been removed. Two weeks later, an Iranian intelligence delegation and the deputy leader from the Iraqi Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Committee militia, Abu Mahdi Muhandis, visited the site.


According to ISI’s assessment, “Without Syrian supervision, Iranian allies in Lebanon and Syria such as Hezbollah get a logistic channel, run by the Shi’ite militias and Iran,” ISI said, adding that “The foundation is part of the Iranian effort to establish the 1,200 km.-length land bridge from Tehran to the Mediterranean.”

Both Israel and the US have warned that Iran and its proxy militias are the biggest threats to peace in the region, and hope to weaken Iran’s growing influence across the Middle East and Persian Gulf.

Israel has warned repeatedly that it will not allow an Iranian presence in Syria, and has admitted to carrying out hundreds of airstrikes to prevent the transfer of weapons.

It is believed that Iran will attempt to entrench itself in Iraq, a mainly Shia country, as it did in Syria, where it managed to establish and consolidate a solid parallel security structure in the country.

While there have been no reports of strikes in Iraq attributed to Israel, the Jewish state is reported to be behind an airstrike on the Syrian-Iraqi border last year near Al Bukamal, which killed 22 members of a Shi’ite militia.

Iraqi troops have been working with the Hashd al-Shaabi – also known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) – militia fighters in the fight against ISIS members in the country. The PMF militias that were incorporated into Iraq’s security apparatus in 2016 to fight against the Islamic State group alongside Iraqi and Kurdish forces, are directly financed and equipped by Iran.

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