Iran moves arms from Damascus airport

Iran is moving a major arms depot from Damascus airport after a series of Israeli airstrikes on the site, Haaretz reported yesterday.

According to a report by Amos Harel, Iran will move its main weapons hub from Damascus International Airport to the Syrian air base known as T-4, located between Homs and Palmyra in eastern Syria. The Israel Air Force attacked Iranian military installations at T-4 in February and May 2018.

Since 2011, Iran’s Quds Brigade, commanded by General Qasem Soleimani, has had its own independent compound, known as the “Glasshouse”, within Damascus airport. Arms storage depots, including two underground bunkers, are situated close to the passenger terminals. Ammunition, surface-to-air missiles and kits to upgrade Hezbollah’s missiles are, according to Israeli sources, being sent to Hezbollah in Lebanon or other Iranian bases in Syria via the airport on board planes leased from private Iranian companies under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Iran’s base at the airport is roughly 50 km from the Israeli border, which violates Russia’s pledge to keep Iranian activity at least 80km away. While the airport is protected by Syrian anti-missile defence systems, Israel has succeeded in carrying out attacks in the past. Following Israel’s most recent attack on 20 January against IRGC military targets at the airport, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “The practice of arbitrary strikes on the territory of a sovereign state – in this case, we are talking about Syria – should be ruled out.”

Israel’s Channel 12 News reported that Israel recently uncovered a new Iranian weapons factory near the north-western city of Safita in Syria. The factory is intended to upgrade Hezbollah’s missiles with precision guidance technology to make them more accurate. The report says that Iran has been able to bypass international sanctions on its missile programme by creating a series of straw companies via Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), a government agency that manufactures weapons and whose facilities have repeatedly been targeted by Israel in the past.