According to the BBC, citing a Western intelligence source, Iran has established a permanent military base outside El-Kiswah, 8 miles south of Damascus and some 35 miles north of Israel’s border with Syria.
The BBC commissioned satellite images from McKenzie Intelligence Services, showing the progress of construction activity at the site from January to October 2017. There is no doubt that the base is burgeoning, with at least 25 buildings intended to house soldiers and equipment.
The BBC story speculates as to the actual purpose of the new base, noting that for now they have not spotted unconventional weapons. But for this new base to be a threat to Israel, at a distance of less than 100 miles from the Sea of Galilee and the thickly populated civilian area around it, the Iranian base doesn’t need unconventional weapons.
Al Arabiya reported on Friday that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have established a new militia named Brigade 313 in Southern Syria. The Syrian opposition has warned that the militia, trained and funded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, aims to use the de-escalation zones in South Syria to advance Iran’s designs on the Israeli border area. The chief negotiator for the Sunni rebel groups Mohammed Sabra said the militia is part of Iran’s divisive policies in the region.
According to Al Arabiya, the new militia is headquartered in the majority-Christian city of Izra—just 40 miles from the Israeli border, but its fighters are Shiites from southern Syria.
Iran has been involved in boosting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army in the civil war since 2012. But in 2014, Iran increased its deployment of IRGC in Syria, proposing to open a new Syrian front against Israel in the Golan Heights. It has taken Tehran more than five years to get to the point where they are prepared, with Russian backing, to target Israel.
Since January 2013 the IRGC lost more than 2,000 troops in Syria, mostly officers, including several brigadier and major generals. The remaining deaths consist of auxiliaries recruited from Afghan and Pakistani immigrants inside Iran, who joined the IRGC in exchange for salaries and citizenship, much like the Foreign Legion.
Iran’s satellite terrorist group Hezbollah has been involvement in the Syrian Civil War since the beginning of armed insurgency, and turned into active troop deployment in 2012. Hezbollah has deployed several thousand fighters in Syria and by 2015 lost more than 1,500 fighters in combat.