Wednesday, February 21, 2018

NY Times refutes Iranian FM's claim that 'we have no bases' in Syria - Erez Linn and News Agencies

by Erez Linn and News Agencies

Iran has three main bases in Syria, seven "smaller tactical bases near active front lines," New York Times reports

A satellite image showing one of the alleged Iranian base in May
Photo: BBC 

On the same day that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif denied his country has any military bases in Iran, The New York Times on Monday published a comprehensive report detailing the numerous permanent bases the Islamic republic has built in the war-torn country.

Zarif was speaking in Moscow at the Valdai Discussion Club's conference titled "Russia in the Middle East: Playing on Every Field."

"No, we do not have any [bases in Syria]," Zarif said, but admitted to the presence of Iranian military advisers there.

The New York Times, meanwhile, identified three main Iranian bases that "oversee operations in large parts of Syria" – one near Aleppo in the north and two south of the capital Damascus. The report also cited the existence of "seven smaller tactical bases near active front lines where Iran and its proxies have a presence."

In November, Western intelligence sources told the BBC that Iran was building a military base in Syria some 30 miles from the border with Israel.

Satellite images obtained at the time by the BBC showed extensive construction at a Syrian military base outside of Al-Kiswah, some 9 miles from Damascus.

Research analyst Amir Toumaj, from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The New York Times: "The ultimate goal is, in the case of another war, to make Syria a new front between Israel, Hezbollah and Iran. They [the Iranians] are making that not just a goal, but a reality."

Addressing tensions with Israel and the outbreak of violence along the Syrian border 10 days ago, Zarif told the conference that the Syrian army "was able to break the myth of invincibility" of the Israeli military by downing an F-16  fighter jet on February 10.

Zarif also lambasted the United States' "dangerous policy" in Syria, saying "the U.S. announcement that it will maintain a military presence on Syrian soil and create a militia there constitutes flagrant aggression under international law."

The Iranian foreign minister also said the Palestinian question was "the most critical issue facing the region and the whole world."

Erez Linn and News Agencies


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