Syrian Opposition Website Reveals Information About Hizbullah Drone Base In Southern Damascus

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March 25, 2020

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On March 25, 2020, a Syrian opposition website known for leaking intelligence documents claimed that Hizbullah in Lebanon has established a dozen military bases south of the Syrian capital, Damascus, including a drone base.

According to the website, Wasel Al-Zaman, the Hizbullah bases include training fields and camps for its ground troops, all of which operate independently of Assad's regime.[1] The report quoted "sources in the know" as saying: "the most important of all of these bases is the one dedicated to aerial combat reconnaissance and wiretapping, which is located in the Al-Sayda Zainab area, more specifically, in the southwest of the town Kharbat Al-Ward." The report noted that the town's original residents were expelled to accommodate Shi'ite militias from Iraq, in addition to Lebanese Hezbollah forces.

This report on Hizbullah's drone base is alarming evidence of the group's operational capabilities and ambition in the region. Furthermore, it demonstrates the extent of Lebanese Hizbullah's relationship with Tehran, which funds most of its arsenal and activities.

According to the report, the base became operational at the end of 2012 and was used by Syria's Air Force Intelligence. The base was headed by Air Force Intelligence Colonel Muhammad Bilal, who, according to the report, was in charge of the "Al-Baath Squadron" or "Squadron 655."

During that period, claimed the report, the base was divided into two areas by a high earthen berm. Squadron 655 was located in the southern section, while the northern section housed an Air Force Intelligence training field. With the increasing influx of Shi'ite militias into Syria, in 2014 the southern section of this base was placed under the administration of Hizbullah in Lebanon. Hizbullah reportedly received many "Muhajer-4" drones from Iran around the same time, leading the group to post additional guards in the southern part of the base.

In 2016, the base expanded to include three new barracks in the western section to accommodate an Iraqi Shi'ite militia that had joined Hizbullah's militias in an effort to curb the rebellion against Assad's regime. In mid-2017, construction began on an airstrip to the north of base, equipped for launching drones at night. The report added that the runway was used extensively, and that Hizbullah dispatched many reconnaissance drones, covering a radius of more than 100 kilometers, an area that includes Syria's borders with Israel's Golan Heights, Jordan, and Lebanon, as well as the Syrian desert, reaching the outskirts of Homs.

The report included aerial images of the base, and concluded by noting that before 2012, the base served primarily as a special training field for Syria's Air Force Intelligence, and  was equipped with an old civilian airplane, training hurdles and had a shooting range for various light weapons.

Aerial image showing the borders of the base. (Source: Zamanalwsl.net)

Aerial image showing the southern section of the base where the  drone runway is located. (Source: Zamanalwsl.net)

Aerial image showing the northern section of the base which is used to be shooting range for the Syrian intelligence air force. (Source: Zamanalwsl.net   

[1] Zamanalwsl.net, March 25,202.

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