DEBKAfile Exclusive: Iranian Revolutionary Guards Al Qods Brigades have just finished emptying out and shuttering Al Kiswah, their main command center in southern Syria. Our military sources report that this command post, situated 15km south of Damascus, was the Iranian military’s nearest point to Israel’s Golan border. In 2017, the IRGC invested substantial resources in expanding the facility to accommodate 500 combatants with covered sheds for vehicles and ammo stores. Some of those structures recently stood empty, apparently for fear of Israeli air strikes.
In the last six months, an Al Qods unit was deployed to Al Kiswah armed with medium-range surface rockets. The base was targeted by the Israeli air force when the first rockets were fired against the IDF’s Mt. Hermon outposts.
According to our sources, the pullout from Al Kiswah takes place amid Iran’s overall troop drawdown from Syria, in response to the pressure to economize on funds that are sharply depleted by U.S sanctions. Around 50 percent of Iran military manpower in Syria has been sent home, reducing the total to the unprecedented level of 2,300-2,500.
Shutting down Al Kiswah is also part of a revised strategy by Tehran to pull its forces back from proximity to the Syrian-Israeli border and focus instead on concentrating its limited resources on deployment in the eastern regions near the Iraqi border. Our military sources report that the strategists in Tehran stand by their decision to build up the IRGC complex near Abu Kamal, regardless of continuous air attacks. They are also planning to augment this hub of operations with small air bases for different types of drones for use by the Iraqi Shiite militias posted there.