Under guise of earthquake relief, Iran smuggled tons of weapons to Syria

“The quake was a sad disaster, but at the same time it was God’s way of enabling us to help our brothers in Syria in their fight against their enemies,” said one Iranian source.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Iran smuggled hundreds of tons of weaponry to Syria under the guise of earthquake relief following the Feb. 6 tremblor, Reuters reported Wednesday based on multiple intelligence sources.

According to anonymous accounts by Israeli and other Western agencies as well as Syrian and Iranian informants, Tehran took immediate advantage of the natural disaster that claimed some 7,000 Syrian lives in an earthquake that mainly affected Turkey, where 50,000 lost their lives.

“The quake was a sad disaster but at the same time it was God’s help to us to help our brothers in Syria in their fight against their enemies,” one source close to the Iranian mullahcracy told the news agency. “Loads of weapons were sent to Syria immediately.”

An Israeli source told Reuters that supposed earthquake aid contained “significant movements of military equipment from Iran, mainly transported in parts,” primarily to Aleppo in northern Syria. He specified that the Quds Force, the IRGC’s extraterritorial and arm that supports Iran’s terror proxies throughout the Middle East, was responsible for the deliveries.

Hundreds of planes landed over a period of seven weeks in several Syrian airports, said several of the sources, with supplies that included advanced communications equipment and radar batteries to improve Syria’s air defense systems.

Israel has carried out a few thousand airstrikes against its northern neighbor over recent years with near impunity in an effort to stop Iran’s military entrenchment in the area, in what is known in Hebrew as the “war between the wars.” Its main targets are Iran’s proxy terrorist group, Hezbollah, and Iranian forces in the form of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) members.

In the period of one week in late March and early April, the IAF struck multiple locations in Syria on four occasions, hitting weapons storage sites, an Iranian headquarters, a drone radar station and a scientific research center, among other targets.

According to a Syrian defector, Col. Abduljabbar Akaidi, Israeli jets have “also targeted a meeting of commanders of Iranian militias and shipments of electronic chips to upgrade weapons systems.”

The Saudi Arabian news site Elaph had reported just a few days after the earthquake that an anonymous Israeli official had warned that Jerusalem had “information indicating that Iran will take advantage of the tragic situation in Syria” to bring in weaponry, and that the IDF would answer “without hesitation” with a “firm military response” if that were to be the case.

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One Western intelligence source indicated that even with all these efforts, Tehran had answered the challenge.

“We believe that Iranian militias have transferred huge quantities of ammunition – they have restocked quantities lost in previous Israeli drone strikes,” the source said.

When asked by Reuters, both the IRGC and Iran’s mission to the UN denied that arms were brought in with earthquake relief. Damascus declined to comment on the charge.