Muraselon: The Syrian Reporter & Agnes Helou / Defense News & Inside Syria Media Center – 2018-02-10 20:35:28
Iranian Official: No Permanent Iranian Bases Inside Syria
Muraselon: The Syrian Reporter
(January 7, 2018) — Senior Advisor to the Iranian Parliament Speaker Hossein Amir Abdollahian dismissed media reports claiming that Tehran has set up military bases in Syria, but meantime, confirmed the country’s advisory role.
“We don’t have any military base in Syria,” Amir Abdollahian was quoted as saying by the Iranian media on Sunday. He stressed Iran’s military advisory role in Syria, and said, “We will continue this presence as far as the Syrian government demands for our presence for military and advisory assistance.”
Amir Abdollahian said that when the Syrian government concludes that there is no need for Iran’s military presence in the country and Syria becomes stable, Iran will end its advisory role.
Russia and US Engage in ‘Military Base Race’ in Syria
Agnes Helou / Defense News
BEIRUT (January 15, 2018) — A military bases race is underway between Russia and the US as each nation seeks to expand its presence in Syria and counter asymmetric threats.
The US has a military presence in several key locations, but there are two areas with heavy US troop presence that are being transformed to military bases, according to a military source: The first is located in Al Tabaqah near Al Raqqa north Syria, where the US special forces troops are training Kurdish groups; the other is constructed in Al-Tanf where the US troops prevent Syrian and Russian armed forces from crossing.
Al Tabaqah was a Syrian military air base before revolts ended the hold. US also has special operations forces along the Jordan-Iraq-Syria borders in Al Tanf, a crossing where Syrian revolt groups are trained. The US military presence in Deir Ezzour and in Al Tanf have “sandwiched” this area, impairing Iran’s efforts to build the bridge connecting Iran with the Mediterranean.
By comparison, Russia has two permanent military bases in Syria — an air base in Hmeimim and a naval base in Tartous.
“Russian officials want an immediate exit from Syria because they are aware that if the region’s dynamics are altered, Russia will encounter guerrilla warfare against its presence in Syria,” said Elias Hanna, a retired general of the Lebanese Army, pointing to an attack on Hmeimim by drones from a distance of 50-100 km away Jan. 6.
“It is impossible for an ISIS member to design a drone [able to] travel 50-100 km,” he added. “It needs the capabilities to connect to satellites and GPS” — which is a grave concern to Russia.
After the attack, Russia’s Defense Ministry insinuated the US was involved, saying that the data for the attacks could only have been obtained “from one of the countries that possesses know-how in satellite navigation,” and calling it a “strange coincidence” that a US military intelligence plane was flying over the Mediterranean near the two Russian bases at the moment of the attack. The Pentagon strongly denied any involvement.
The Russian military presence in Syria is based on an agreement signed between the legitimate internationally recognized Syrian government of Assad and the Russians, under which Russia built two permanent bases for an indefinite period of time. Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law ratifying a deal with the Syrian government allowing Russia to keep its air base in Syria for almost half a century, according to July 2017 documents.
“Syria is located in a strategic position — it is the gateway to the Middle East and the Gulf; this is why we witness such a competition in sharing influence, not the least of which [involves] constructing military bases,” said retired Lebanese armed forces general Wehbe Katicha. “Note that the Russian arms had a huge increase in exports after the operations in Syria.”
Russia showed its military capabilities in Syria from fighter jets to air defense systems and it used the Syrian conflict as a trial field for its arms. Syria was a defense and military show to start exporting arms to the Gulf and Middle East, and the Saudi S-400 Triumph agreement with Russia is a direct result of this show.
Katicha stressed the strategic influence of Syrian ports that constitute a linking point for trade between the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
“The strategic influence of Syria is at the [core[ of the ‘military base race,’ where we witness a competition between major countries to prove their military presence,” he said. “Moreover, Russia is trying to come back as a great power in the region; this is [the reason for] risking extending its military presence in Syria, even though it knows that asymmetric threats might constitute an obstacle.”
Agnes Helou writes about Middle East defense. In addition to contributing to Defense News, she is a reporter at SDArabia, an Arabic security and defense magazine and website www.sdarabia.com.
Turkish Media Reveal List of US Bases in Syria
Inside Syria Media Center
(July 19, 2017) — On Tuesday, July 18, Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu published an article revealing the active American bases and military points in northern Syria.
There are two air bases mentioned in the article — one is claimed to have been opened in October 2015 at Rmeilan airfield in Al-Hasakah province while the other in 2016 near Harab Isk village in southern Kobani in March 2016. The location of the two bases has already been known for a long time.
Anadolu also published the information on eight secret military points. With the reference to its correspondents, the agency said the US had recently set up such a point in Tal Baydar district in Al-Hasakah province. According to the agency, about 100 US Special Forces soldiers have been deployed there. Besides Tal Baydar, there are also two points — in Ash Shaddadi neighborhood and Tal Tamir.
AA mentioned another five US military facilities in Syria — two in Manbij and three in Raqqa regions. French Special Forces are claimed to be deployed at the two Raqqa points. According to Anadolu, the points are usually hidden and access to the areas where they are located is restricted.
The US seems to intend to occupy northern Syria controlled by the Kurds. In its turn, Turkey is concerned about the growing influence of the Washington-backed YPG/PYD by the Syria-Turkey border and decided to launch a campaign against its NATO ally.
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