Iran airlifts thousands of Shiite fighters to Syrian port of Latakia to boost Aleppo warfront
debkafile’s exclusive military and intelligence sources have discovered a large-scale Iranian airlift is in progress for bringing thousands of Shiite fighters to the Syrian Mediterranean port of Latakia to reinforce the Syrian army forces falling back from the key city of Aleppo. Some of the flights are taking off from Baghdad airport. The Syrian rebels in heavy fighting Thursday and Friday, Feb. 19-20 repulsed a Hizballah-backed Syrian army offensive to recapture the town and took scores of Hizballah fighters prisoner.
The incoming reinforcements are being transferred directly to the Aleppo battle-front in an effort to stabilize it and reverse the Syrian army’s retreat.
The incoming reinforcements are made up of Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani Shiite militiamen.The fact that Tehran was able to raise this force in less than 24 hours from the Syrian army’s defeat in Aleppo demonstrates Iran’s total military and strategic commitment to swift action for averting a Syrian-Hizballah retreat from a key front of the four-year old civil war.
The Iranian planes are taking two routes to Syria, starting out either in Baghdad or Tehran. In Baghdad, they touch down in the military section of the international airport and collect the Iraqi Shiite militiamen destined for the Syrian battlefield. This step necessitated the consent of the Iraqi government and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
The Iranian operation therefore exposes two exceedingly disturbing developments which are causing Israel’s army chiefs to burn the midnight oil: The fall of the Abadi government under Tehran’s sway is one; and Iraq’s direct involvement for the first time in the military actions of the Syrian civil war.
debkafile’s military experts extrapolate from Tehran’s immediate readiness to transfer thousands of foreign troops into Syria to save Assad’s army from retreat, that the same response is to be expected from a possible setback of the same alliance in South Syria – especially when Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers are leading a Syrian-Hizballah-Shiite drive to capture the Golan town of Quneitra across from Israel’s lines.
Our sources add that President Barack Obama was in a position, had he wished, to intervene with Baghdad and hold back the Iranian troop airlift to Syria. This has not happened. The administration’s inaction places it squarely behind Iran’s military steps in the Middle East and its direct intervention in key trouble spots.