OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 8:52 AM – Thursday, April 13, 2023
Iran allegedly smuggled weapons into Syria disguised as deliveries of relief supplies following the devastating earthquake that had struck the region in February, according to a new report by Reuters.
After the earthquake in February, which measured at a magnitude of 7.8, a number of countries shipped relief supplies to Turkey and Syria, this included hundreds of flights from Iran. Over a seven-week period, the flights from Iran had delivered supplies to the Syrian cities of Aleppo, Damascus, and Latakia.
An unnamed Israeli official reported to Reuters that as part of those deliveries, Iran had also smuggled military equipment into the country.
“Under the guise of shipments of earthquake aid to Syria,” the official said. “Israel has seen significant movements of military equipment from Iran, mainly transported in parts.”
As part of the deliveries, Iran had allegedly smuggled in advanced communications equipment, radar batteries, and spare parts for a planned upgrade of the air defense system in Syria.
The source claimed that the goal of the smuggled parts and planned upgrade was to enhance Iran’s defenses against Israel in Syria.
Jason Brodsky, the Policy Director for United Against Nuclear Iran, said that the smuggling is part of Iran’s “playbook” and that officials in Iran “have bragged” about the deliveries and that they were successful.
“The idea that Iran smuggled weapons to Syria, exploiting the earthquake emergency mission, is very much part of its playbook, and Iranian officials have bragged that they are getting away with it.” “It’s all part of a very concerning threat landscape that confronts Israel,” he said to i24NEWS. “At a time when Israel is consumed over internal divisions over the judicial reform issue, as well as this earthquake aid situation and the perceived distraction of the United States away from the region, the Islamic Republic senses it has an opportunity to expand its footprint and carry out more aggressive operations against Israel.”
On February 10th, Israel had warned about the smuggling operations and that Iran would take advantage of the supplies deliveries to Syria and use them to smuggle in weapons.
“There is information indicating that Iran will take advantage of the tragic situation in Syria and, under the cover of humanitarian aid, will send weapons and equipment to Hezbollah,” one anonymous Israeli military official had said, according to the Elaph, the Saudi newspaper.
When asked about the deliveries, Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York said “that’s not true.”
However, a regional source close to Iran’s Clerical leadership confirmed the weapons deliveries, and that the earthquake was “God’s help to use to help our brothers in Syria in their fight.”
“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. Loads of weapons were sent to Syria immediately,” the source said.
An unidentified Western Intelligence source warned that Iran had used the flights, which began on February 6th, to transfer “huge quantities of ammunition.”
“We believe that Iranian militias have transferred huge quantities of ammunition. They have restocked quantities lost in previous Israeli drone strikes,” the source said.
Israel had stated that they stand ready to strike “any equipment or weapons” that are smuggled in and staged anywhere within Syria.
The country had then proceeded to carry out several strikes on a number of targets, including a fortified position that was built by Iranian forces, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group in Syria near Damascus. Another strike had targeted a radio station that was utilized to fly small drones on April 3rd.
The Earthquake that Iran had used as cover had struck Turkey and Syria early on the morning of February 6th. The earthquake had also caused the deaths of over 57,000. Around 50,000 of the confirmed deaths were in Turkey, while the rest were in Syria.
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