Iran, Syria draw closer with new defense agreement

The allies signed a military security agreement that commits Iran to strengthening Syria’s air defense and demands that “foreign forces” leave the country.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Iran and Syria signed a military cooperation agreement on Wednesday to act as a buffer against U.S. pressure on the Assad regime and deter Jerusalem from its goal of forcing the Islamic state out of its entrenchment on Israel’s northern border.

The chief of staff of Iran’s military, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, signed the pact in Damascus with Syrian Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayyoub. According to Iranian state television, the purpose of the agreement is to “confront increasing dangers [and] takfiri terrorism supported by international and regional powers” in Syria.

Takfiri is the Iranian term for Sunni Muslims, who are among the rebel groups the Syrian regime is fighting in its years-long civil war.

The “regional powers” that are behind these groups include Israel, according to Ayyoub, who said in a press conference following the signing ceremony that they are “part of the Israeli aggression” against his country.

In his turn to speak, Bagheri castigated Turkey as well, which has invaded and taken over a small part of Syria near their mutual border. The “international power” reference is to the United States, which is still maintaining a military presence in Syria to fight Islamic State terrorists and their allies.

The two demanded that “all foreign forces having entered Syria illegally” should withdraw. This would not include Iran, however, as Ayyoub noted that the Islamic Republic is his country’s “strategic ally” and, in a veiled reference to the U.S. and Israel, said that those who want to damage their relationship “are hallucinating and need to wake up from their dreams.”

The agreement also commits Iran to helping its ally improve its air defense system, which is seen as a direct challenge to Israel. The IDF has routinely carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria over recent years to destroy military sites and installations of Iranian-backed militias.

It has also hit rocket factories where the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization is attempting to add precision-guidance elements to thousands of missiles to enable them to hit Israeli targets more accurately.

While Syrian news regularly states that its forces shot down incoming missiles during such attacks, the accuracy of such reports are doubtful, and its air defense has never prevented the ultimate success of Israel Air Force missions.