Iran Is Building 8 Military Commands in Syria

The talk in Washington of a strategic partnership with Syria to alleviate the crises in Iraq and the Middle East has had the effect of deepening Syrian-Iranian military collaboration. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s exclusive military and intelligence sources reveal that at this moment, Iranian Revolutionary Guards construction units are erecting eight new military command centers – five in and around greater Damascus and three in other parts of Syria.

Our sources disclose that the RCs have finished building their main command center in Syria, having located it inside the Syrian presidential guard compound, which is ruled by President Bashar Asad‘s younger brother Gen. Maher Asad. The compound is part of a complex which includes Syria’s central al Mazeh prison.

The Iranian facility, spread over a large area, is walled in by high electronic fences manned by Iranian RC sentries. The RCs’ own building contractors, Jihad al-Binaa-JBDA, are putting the finishing touches to the 15 large buildings and the internal road system linking them.

It is not clear whether members of the Syrian president’s own guard, including his brother, which bear responsibility for the safety of the presidential family and top officials in Damascus, will be granted access to the Iranian military facility which it hosts.

According to our intelligence sources, no one can enter or leave the Iranian command center without transiting a Syrian control point. The Damascus authorities have apparently decided to be content with monitoring all movements to and from the Iranian installation and not insisting on regular internal inspections of the premises.

Another of the command posts is under construction at the center of Syria’s main military intelligence base at Baramke, north of Damascus.

A third is going up at Kafr Sussa, east of Damascus, where Syrian military intelligence’s 215 Company is quartered.

A large Iranian military camp housing a fourth command will be located near the Syrian Air Force headquarters in the Tuma district of Damascus.

A fifth Iranian center, including a large communications installation, is being erected on Mt. Cassion (picture) which overlooks the Syrian capital.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources estimate that this site will be autonomous, separate from the early warning and electronic surveillance and communications stations already established on the mountaintop by Syrian military intelligence.

Three more Iranian military facilities are disclosed:

1. A command center similar to the Damascus facility is under construction inside the site of the 82nd Syrian Brigade at Marj Sultan.

2. Another has been completed close to the Syrian air force aerial surveillance unit south of Homs in northern Syria.

3. The Syrian aerial surveillance unit near the Mediterranean port of Latakia will also acquire an Iranian neighbor.

The broad spread of Iranian military command installations at sensitive sites in Damascus and across Syria, which also operate as intelligence, early warning and communications centers, far transcends a mere support system for the Lebanese Hizballah. It is more like a tactical military deployment designed to confront Israel and US and NATO naval forces in the eastern Mediterranean.

The working premise on which Bush administration advisers base their recommendation for rapprochement with Syria, helped along by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, is that the progress of this thaw will be accompanied by the loosening of Damascus’ ties with Tehran; the Asad regime should then be gradually drawn into the Washington-Riyadh-Cairo alignment.

However, according to our Middle East sources, Asad has other fish to fry judging by the eight brand-new Iranian military installations he is hosting. He seems to think he can get away with reaping the advantages of joining the American-led Arab camp while retaining all his stakes in his alliance with Tehran – and perhaps acting as middleman between the two opposing forces.

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