Iran and Russia Double Their Arms Airlifts for Syrian Army

Four months ago, on Dec. 15, 2012, the Chairman of Iran's Armed Forces Chiefs of Staff Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi warned NATO that deploying Patriot missiles along Turkey's border with Syria could pave the way for “world war”.
Every one of these Patriot missiles is a dark spot on the world map and is aimed at starting a world war. Yet unfortunately one by one, Western countries are approving deployment of Patriot missiles to Turkey’s border with Syria, while they are planning a world war which is very dangerous for the future of humanity and Europe itself,” Firouzabadi said at the time.
Such Iranian threats, often repeated since, have a similar ring to the rhetoric heard this week from North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un about “all-out war on America.”
As matters stand now, none of those threats may be realized.
A the same time, if President Barack Obama goes through with his plan to attack Syria over its chemical arsenal (see second article in this issue), the landscape could change radically: Four rulers, Kim, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin may get together to snatch the initiative from America and dictate the next turn of events.

US, Israeli troops may meet Iranian combatants in Syria

If Patriot missile batteries were enough to provoke an Iranian threat of “world war,” how much more forceful would Tehran’s response be to an invasion of Syria by the US, NATO and the Israeli army?
Indeed, the US military and IDF would be ranged not just against the Syrian army but for the first time against its backers, Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen and al Qods Brigades units.
In that sense, the Syrian operation might become the starting-point for a US-Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program – an eventuality which has not been lost on Tehran. According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly's Iranian and intelligence sources, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has put his staff to work on plans for this eventuality.
Our military and intelligence sources report that, on Saturday, March 23, right after President Obama flew home from visits to Israel and Jordan, Moscow and Tehran doubled and even tripled their air and ground deliveries of war materiel to Syria.
Western intelligence monitors currently register between five and eight daily landings of Iranian military cargo planes. Iranian aircraft have until now kept to Syrian Air Force bases in Damascus, Aleppo and Palmeira. Now they are landing at airports and makeshift airstrips as close as possible to the battlefields where Syrian units are engaged in combat with rebel fighters.
This novelty in Middle East warfare offers a variety of tactical advantages:

Iranian transports land arms near Syrian battlefields

1. It saves the Syrian army having to transport the weapons delivered by Iranian airlift through blocked roads under rebel attack. The Syrian fighting unit for whom the shipment is destined can pick it up directly from a nearby air strip and so bypass such obstacles as a shortage of trucks and the red tape that even a savage civil war has not vanquished.
2. Strategic collaboration between the Syrian army and Tehran is tightened and streamlined. The commanders of Syrian divisions, brigades or battalions can hand the lists of their arms and equipment shortages to the general staff in Damascus and be sure replenishments will be dropped by air from Iran within 24 to 48 hours.
Iran, already deeply involved in the Syrian conflict, gains the additional option of building up the arsenals of Syrian army divisions for a mission beyond taking on the rebels, namely, facing up to a US-Israeli invasion.
US Secretary of State John Kerry tried on Sunday, March 24, to snap a key link in the Iranian-Syrian air corridor by persuading Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to at least slow down the rate of Iranian planes flying through Iraqi airspace to Syria.
Maliki turned him down.

Tehran and Moscow in close tandem in support of Assad

3. Tehran is not alone in massively stepping up the volume and frequency of its arms deliveries to Assad’s army. So too has Moscow. Russian cargo planes have also developed a more versatile map of landing sites for their arms shipments.
Their close partnership in supplying Assad with arms leads to two conclusions:
One: that Moscow and Tehran have intensified their military cooperation in support of Assad and his army; and two: that they would work even more closely together to thwart a foreign intervention that placed the Syrian regime in peril.
In public speeches and private conversations with Russian military and secret service chiefs, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly pledged not to permit US and NATO to carry out a second Libyan adventure in Syria.
He has put all his personal and political prestige on the line for this commitment.

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