Syria, Iran deploy increased air defenses near Damascus - report

Air defense supplied by and through Iran were reportedly brought to the area to deter Israel from conducting airstrikes in Damascus.

 The IRGC's Bavar-373 air-defense system (photo credit: MEHR NEWS AGENCY)
The IRGC's Bavar-373 air-defense system
(photo credit: MEHR NEWS AGENCY)

Syria and Iran have been deploying new air defense systems, including jamming and early warning systems, around Damascus in order to prevent Israeli airstrikes in the area, according to the Syrian Capital Voice site.

According to the report, the new systems were built by Korean and Chinese companies and provided by Iran as part of agreements reached between Syria and Iran.

Sources told the Capital Voice that the Syrian Defense Ministry tested jamming systems in October, succeeding and getting Israeli aircraft to leave Syrian airspace at least twice.

The sources additionally claimed that Iran had brought two "Bavar-373" air defense systems to the Damascus area, with one being placed near the town of Rakhlah, located near the border with Lebanon and just about 30 kilometers north of the Golan Heights.

The Bavar-373 systems were brought into Syria in August after an agreement was reached with Russia and the Syrian government, according to the report. The systems were brought through Iraqi territory and stored in eastern Syria until recently.

 IRGC radar system (credit: MEHR NEWS AGENCY) IRGC radar system (credit: MEHR NEWS AGENCY)

Earlier this month, the IRGC announced a successful test of the Bavar-373 system using the "Sayad B-4" interceptor. Israeli intelligence analyst Ronen Solomon, who runs the Intelli Times blog, published that the system was developed under the purview of Iranian researcher Abdollah Mehrabi, who serves as the chief of the IRGC's Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad Organization (SSJO).

The Sayad B-4 interceptor was developed at a base belonging to the SSJO in Tehran, near the headquarters of the IRGC's Aerospace Forces, the Mehrabad airport and the logistics centers of the IRGC, according to Intelli Times.

The Capital Voice added that a recent month-long break during which no alleged Israeli airstrikes were reported in Syria was caused by the new systems. The sources claimed that Israel tried more than once during October to carry out airstrikes but failed.

Syrian loyalist sources have reported an increase in flights of Israeli and American reconnaissance aircraft near Syrian territory in recent months, with sources telling the Capital Voice that Israel and the US were likely trying to locate the new air defense systems in order to target them.

The last alleged Israeli airstrikes reported in Syria were conducted last week and targeted sites in the coastal and central regions of Syria.

The last alleged Israeli airstrikes to target the Damascus area were reported in late October when three separate strikes targeted sites in the area over a period of a week.

Report comes just days after IRGC official linked to air defenses killed in bombing

The Capital Voice report comes just days after Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Col. Davoud Jafari was killed in a roadside bombing that Iran has blamed on Israel.

The IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency reported that Jafari served as an adviser for the IRGC Aerospace Force in Syria and was among one of the Iranian officials responsible for the seizure of two US Navy command boats carrying 10 US personnel in the Persian Gulf in January 2016.

The Intelli Times blog revealed on Saturday night that Jafari was involved in the deployment of Iranian air defense systems in Syria and Lebanon, a program led by IRGC Brig.-Gen. Fereydoun Mohammadi Saghaei. A photo of Jafari showed that he had the insignia of the air defense units on his uniform.

Saghaei was spotted at Jafari's funeral this past week.

IRGC's Aerospace Force hit by explosions, casualties in series of incidents

A series of incidents in the past year and in the past decade has resulted in damage and casualties at facilities affiliated with Iran's missile and space program and the SSJO, with many of the incidents blamed on Israel.

In the past year, the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group missile base in Karaj, near Tehran, was hit by a blast blamed on a drone attack, two IRGC Aerospace Force personnel were killed while "carrying out their mission" in June in Iran and an additional member of the Aerospace Force was killed during a "mission" in southeastern Iran in September.