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July 28, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8868

On Facebook, Syrian Opposition Page Reports Iran Backs Digging Of Tunnels In Syria To Protect Missiles, Weapons Depots, Reveals Presence Of Iranian, Afghan, Iraqi Fighters

July 28, 2020
Iran, Syria | Special Dispatch No. 8868

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

On July 17, 2020, Eye of the Euphrates, a Syrian opposition Facebook page, published a report claiming that Iran and its allied Shi'ite militias are digging tunnels and trenches in the city of Al-Bukamal and in the town Al-Mayadin in Deir Al-Zour Governorate, designed with the purpose of protecting missiles and weapons depots.[1] In the post, the page also included a short video and maps of the digging sites along the Syria-Iraq border.

 

The Eye of the Euphrates Facebook post began by revealing that a secret tunnel network is being dug by Iran in Al-Bukamal and Al-Mayadin in Deir Al-Zour Governorate.

"Following in the footsteps of Da'ish [i.e. the Islamic State or ISIS], the Iranian militias began a large-scale [project of] digging tunnels in the areas under their control in the city of Deir Al-Zour, after airstrikes on their headquarters had increased," the page said.

The page then listed the key tunnels being dug by Iranian militias in Deir Al-Zour. It provided the following details on the dig sites:

  1. Al-Bukamal city: Most of the Iranian headquarters in the city of Al-Bukamal were previously ISIS headquarters. The Iranian militias have expanded the tunnels beneath these headquarters. Today, they are digging long tunnels around the headquarters, especially in the Green Belt area, and are using them as depots for storing weapons and ammunition. Excavators and heavy equipment used for digging and transporting sand are being brought from Iraq. Digging operations are being supervised by Iranian and Iraqi military figures such as Abu Al-Hasan Al-Iraqi, one of the leaders of the Iraqi Hizballah, Mahdi Al-Irani, and others.

  2. The outskirts of Al-Bukamal city: These tunnels are located near the Iraqi border on the outskirts of the city of Al-Bukamal by the Badia desert. In the video, the trenches appear to be connected to each other, as well as to underground tunnels, in order to protect a depot of missiles and heavy weapons. These headquarters are primarily manned by Afghans and Iranians, as well as a few Iraqis.

  3. Behind the Al-Hamdan area in Al-Bukamal city: These tunnels are located 14 km (8.6 miles) from the city of Al-Bukamal, towards the Badia desert, and specifically behind the Al-Hamdan region, where there are eight underground tunnels. A tunnel drilling machine is permanently situated there, along with military vehicles and approximate 25 Iraqi nationals, who are led by a man called Aws Al-Iraqi. The site belongs to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

  4. Amid Al-Mayadin civilian residences: In the past two days, the Iranian militias have dug trenches and tunnels in the civilian residential area near the post office and the cultural center in Al-Mayadin city, on Corniche Street.

  5. Al-Mayadin Badia [the desert]: This site belongs to the Iraqi Hizballah and includes tunnels and three underground depots containing large numbers of weapons and ten military vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft weapons. The site is manned by 30 fighters. These headquarters are supervised by Al-Hassan from Mosul, Abu Aya Al-Iraqi, and Ibrahim Haj Hassan Al-Ali from the Syrian coast.

  6. The town of Buqrus in Al-Mayadin city: Under the headquarters in the outskirts of the town is a huge tunnel, which falls within the city limits of Al-Mayadin from the side of Badia desert. ISIS previously used these headquarters. The tunnel houses cars and weapons. The supervisors of this site are Abu Haydar Al-Iraqi and Abu Al-Abbas from the Al-Ramadi area in Iraq.

  7. The outskirts of Al-Mayadin city: On the outskirts of Al-Mayadin there are many trenches and tunnels, particularly in the Al-Mazari' and Al Haydariyah areas, near the archaeological site of 'Ayn 'Ali.

Below are stills from the video shared by the Eye of Euphrates Facebook page:


On-screen text: "Al-Bukamal city – Green Belt area: Eye of the Euphrates monitors Iranian digging equipment building a secret tunnel network in Al-Bukamal city in the countryside of Deir Al-Zour."


On-screen text: "The Outskirts of Al-Bukamal city from the direction of the Badia [desert]: Iranian tunnels near the Iraqi border, with the mission of protecting the depot of missiles. The site has Afghan and Iranian fighters."

 
On-screen text: "Behind Al-Hamdan Area – Al-Bukamal city: Iranian tunnels near the Iraqi border, with the mission of protecting the missile depot. The site has Afghan and Iranian fighters."


On-screen text: "Iran is digging tunnels and trenches among civilian homes in the city of Al-Mayadin in the countryside of Deir Al-Zour."

The page also provided maps of these sites on the Syria-Iraq border. Following are the maps provided by Eye of Euphrates Facebook post:


A map showing the digging sites of the Iranian tunnels along the Syrian-Iraqi border provided by the Eye of Euphrates Facebook page.


A map detailing the sites of the secret Iranian tunnel network in Deir Al-Zour, provided by the Eye of Euphrates Facebook page. The map lists six sites in the Al-Bukamal and Al-Mayadin areas in the Deir Al-Zour Governorate.  

It should be noted that on April 5, 2020, the Eye of the Euphrates shared photos purporting that the Iran-backed group Kata'ib Hizballah in Iraq has been smuggling weapons and rockets into Syria in refrigerated delivery trucks.[2]

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