Iran has more than doubled its number of bases and military outposts in southern Syria’s Golan Heights.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Iran has doubled its presence along Israel’s northern border with Syria, according to a bombshell report from a Turkish thinktank released last week.
Jusoor for Studies, an Istanbul-based research institute which Israel Hayom cited, maintains close ties with forces aiming to bring down Syrian president Bashar Assad. A recent report by the thinktank said that Iran is building military infrastructure in Syria, specifically for a future conflict with Israel.
Despite a 2018 agreement to reduce Iranian-backed operatives and affiliated militia in southern Syria’s Golan Heights, signed by Russia, Jordan, Israel, and the U.S., Iran has instead cemented its presence in the area.
Iranian-backed and Hezbollah-affiliated military installations more than doubled, growing from 40 to 88, in the past two years. Syrian army bases are being used for logistical support for Iranian militias, the report said.
Iran has recruited international fighters to advance its interests in Syria, training and arming Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi, and Lebanese nationals throughout the country.
Some Iranian agents are disguised as Syrian army officers and soldiers, the report added.
The relative freedom enjoyed by Iran to establish military outposts in Syria is indicative of the overall chaos in the nation, which has been engulfed in a civil war for over a decade.
Al-Monitor reported that Turkish forces have stepped up efforts to destroy extensive networks of tunnels on the border with Syria. The tunnels are often used by human traffickers to smuggle Syrian nationals into Turkey.
Wael Olwan, a senior researcher at Jusoor for Studies, told Al-Monitor, that the tunnels create a reality on the ground that’s ripe for both exploitation by smugglers and poses a major security risk.
“There are concerns that these new tunnels are not only used to smuggle people but also to smuggle ISIS [terrorists] and their families, as well as weapons, drugs and antiquities,” he said.