Iran’s threats of revenge for Qassem Soleimani’s death were coupled on Sunday, Jan. 5, with practical preparations for action. DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report that after most of the Iraqi Shiite militia leaders and their senior staff were transferred on Friday and Saturday to Iran, on Sunday, Tehran’s preparations for striking US targets extended to Syria and Lebanon. Our sources reveal the four steps Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corp IRGC) have set in motion for their coming retaliatory operations against US targets:
- With their commanders out of the country, the pro-Iran Iraqi Shiite militias are shuttering their command posts and bases in the main cities and the fighters are going to ground with their weapons among civilian populations.
- The militia chiefs who were not sent to Iran in the first wave of evacuations to Iran are redeploying in Syria in areas under Assad government control.
- Their command centers and bases in Syria are being dispersed and hooking up with their chiefs in those areas.
- The Lebanese Hizballah militia has also begun shutting down the Bekaa Valley bases of its strike mechanism, under the command of Talal Hamiyah This mechanism has the formal title of Hizballah’s “External Security Organization.” Three years ago, the US offered a $7m reward for information leading to the capture of Talal Hamiyah.
DEBKAfile’s military and counterterrorism analysts note that the evacuation of Hizballah’s main intelligence and terrorism centers in the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon is a strong pointer to Tehran’s plans of attack against US forces covering points in and outside Iraq, including the Gulf region and beyond. Hizballah’s external arm runs terrorist and sabotage networks in all the Gulf emirates as well as North, East and West Africa. The first sign of trouble came on Sunday night, with shelling and rocket attacks on US forces in the Green Zone of Baghdad and the oil region of eastern Syria.