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memri
May 10, 2018 No.
7464

Reports In Arab Media On Iranian Bases In Syria

On April 28, 2018, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily published an article listing bases of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and of the Iran-backed Shi'ite militias on Syrian soil. According to the daily, the information was sourced from secret reports prepared by the Tahrir Al-Watan movement[1]and by defected Syrian regime army officers who had trained at Iranian military academies. Some of the information also came from the Iranian opposition movement Mujahideen Khalq.[2] The commander of Tahrir Al-Watan and head of the opposition military delegation to the Astana talks, Fateh Hassoun, told Al-Quds Al-Arabi that the information about the Iranian bases in Syria had been forwarded to an International investigation committee and to international bodies in Geneva.

On May 5, 2018, the Syrian opposition website Orient News posted a report on the Iranian bases in the Hama region, which included bases not mentioned in the Al-Quds Al-Arabi article.

This is not the first time that reports mapping the foreign bases in Syria have appeared in the Arab and international press. See for example MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7286, Studies By Arab Researchers Of Distribution Of Foreign Bases Across Syria, January 18, 2018.

The following are the main points of the Al-Quds Al-Arabi and Orient News reports:


Destroyed hangar at T-4 Airbase near Homs, targeted on April 9, 2018

Al-Quds Al-Arabi: Iran Has 19 Bases In Syria

The Al-Quds Al-Arabi article stated: "With the help of senior military sources in the Syrian opposition, Al-Quds Al-Arabi obtained secret military and security reports about the Iranian military deployment in Syria. These reports reveal that, by means of the IRGC and its Shi'ite militias, Iran has established 19 military and logistical bases in Syria, [some of them] in clusters and [some of them] isolated.


Iranian military presence in Syria (source: skynewsarabiya.com, April 30, 2018)

"The following is a list of the Iranian bases in Syria:

"1. The Russian Khmeimim base, or more accurately the Khmeimim airbase, on the Syrian coast. Brigadier-General Fateh Hassoun told Al-Quds Al-Arabi that the IRGC forces have been using this Russian military airbase for military purposes: 'Logistical transport, transferring and transporting [troops] and bringing in [military] equipment.' The troops that enter through this Russian airbase are generally intended for the north Syria front.

"2. Bases on the Syrian coast front, which includes the Latakia and Tartus governorates, [including] the Al-Tali' or Al-Shabiba camp, which can house up to 6,000 troops, used by the IRGC to launch troops into combat in the Mount Al-Akrad and Mount Al-Turkman areas in northern Latakia. There is also an IRGC base in the Jurin area near Hama.

"3. The Al-Sheikh Najjar base in Aleppo: a special IRGC war room in Aleppo's Al-Sheikh Najjar industrial zone, [established] after the [Syrian regime] forces and Iranian militias recaptured Aleppo.

"4. The operations center for the area south of Aleppo, in the town of Al-Hader. This town is believed to be the operations center for the IRGC and its militias in the areas south of Aleppo, and is also an observation center for Iranian military intelligence. The commander of the IRGC's Qods Force, Qassem Soleimani, has visited it several times and [IRGC] military operations chief Brigadier-General Javad Jafari visits it on a regular basis.

"5. Base in the town of Mayer, in the northern Aleppo [region]. After the Shi'ite militias captured the cities of Nubl and Al-Zahraa, the town of Mayer, close to Nubl, became an IRGC military base, and was closed to civilian through-traffic. IRGC commanders settled in the town, and troops of the IRGC and the [Afghan Shi'ite] Al-Fatimiyoun [militia] deployed around it to defend the base.

"6. The Al-Assad Academy base: a base located in the Al-Assad Academy in northeastern Aleppo, on the road to Hama. It houses an IRGC battalion, after the academy was evacuated and most of it was handed over to the IRGC.

"7. The northern front, which includes the Aleppo, Idlib and Hama governorates, [includes the following bases]: The Iranian military operations center at the Al-Safira research base (30 km southeast of Aleppo), in Mount Azan near Al-Waha. It includes two bases: one for the command array and another for the military planning [array].

"8. The bases of the [Syrian regime army's] 47th Armored Brigade near Mount Abu Darda, and of the 77th Brigade, previously stationed in Hama airport and now in the Mount Abu Darda area. [The base] is located seven kilometers from the village of Sharahin, and several IRGC brigades are stationed there. The headquarters of [IRGC] military operations chief Javad Jafari was moved from Aleppo to southern Hama, more precisely to the base of the 47th Brigade.

"9. The T-4 airport, 50 kilometers from Palmyra, is the main base for the eastern and central regions, due to its [strategic] location, which Iran has used as an airbridge... The IRGC used it to concentrate forces [ahead of] the attack on Aleppo. In 2016 it housed over 1,000 IRGC [troops].

"10. Hama airbase, controlled by IRGC and Assad militias. The IRGC uses it to launch forces into combat. It contains several bases used exclusively by the IRGC, which house various experts who played a role in the Khan Shaykhoun chemical [weapons] massacre.

"11. The Homs area and the Sha'irat airbase: This area contains three bases, including the Sha'irat airbase, from which special military flight missions are launched. The area also contains centers of the 11th and 18th Divisions in southern Homs, from which troops are dispatched to northern and eastern Syria.

"12. The central front and Al-Qalamoun, which includes Homs, Hama and the eastern region. IRGC centers there include Base Three, near the city of Al-Dumayr in the rural area of Damascus, on the Damascus-Baghdad highway. Although the region administratively belongs to the Rif Dimashq Governorate, the IRGC base deliberately annexed it to the eastern region.

"13. The IRGC's Naba' Al-Fawar headquarters, located in Al-Quneitra in southern Syria, near Sa'sa', 15 kilometers from the Golan Heights. This garrison force is controlled by Hizbullah, and [the base] also houses IRGC forces. Up to 2,000 Hizbullah and IRGC troops are stationed there.

"14. The Izra' IRGC base in the rural area of Dera. Located near the city of Izra' (not far from the city of Al-Shaikh Maskin)... this site contains a base for SAM [surface-to-air] missiles, which houses the missile unit of the Al-Mahdi Shiraz Division, as well as IRGC forces.

"15. The Al-Yarmouk base, located in what was once the private Al-Yarmouk university, near the 18000 Base. It houses IRGC and Hizbullah forces.

"16. The southern front: includes Rif Dimashq, Dera, Al-Quneitra and Al-Suweida. Among the bases there are the 18000 Base, or Zaynab base, which uses the virtual university [building] as its headquarters. It is located on the Damascus-Dera [road], 60 kilometers [from Damascus], and houses IRGC armored forces, National Defense [Forces] troops, IRGC support units and Al-Fatimiyoun [forces].

"17. The Al-Kiswa base in the rural area of Damascus: established as a permanent base for military operations in southern Damascus, [for Iranian forces] and also the Assad militias' 1st Division. In 2017, construction was carried out in a site belonging to Assad's militias outside Al-Kiswa, 50 kilometers from the Golan Heights.

"18. The Al-Shiban center in Damascus (the Imam Hussein base): located in the Al-Shibani area northwest of Damascus, between the capital and Al-Zabadani, this was formerly a base of the [Syrian] Republican Guard. [Today it] houses 'Al-Firqa 19 Fajr Shiraz' commando forces, alongside Hizbullah and Al-Fatimiyoun forces, which can number up to 3,000.

"18. The Glasshouse base, located near the Damascus airport and believed to be the IRGC's command headquarters in Syria. The IRGC chose to locate its command headquarters near the airport, because it is thought to be the last place that will be attacked [by the enemy]. [Responsible for] deploying IRGC forces that arrive in Syria by air [to various areas in the country]."[3]

Syrian Opposition Website Presents Iranian Bases In Hama Area

The Orient News report, posted on May 5, listed Iranian bases in the Hama area, citing Abu Steif Khatabi, an official from a monitoring body called "Al-Rasd 80." Alongside several bases that were mentioned by Al-Quds Al-Arabi, the website also mentioned several additional bases:

  1. Base south of Mount Zain Al-'Abedin, north of Hama.

  2. Base at the Al-Mujanzirat School in eastern Hama, housing the helicopters of Iranian commanders.

  3. Large base on the Athraya road in the eastern rural area of Hama, near the village of Al-Sheikh Hilal.

  4. Base in Rahba Khatab.

  5. Base near Al-Zawi falls, near the city of Masyaf in western Hama.

  6. An arms development research center in southern Hama.

  7. Defense and research facility in Al-Sheikh Ghadban, in the rural area of Masyaf,  which develops and manufactures weapons, including barrel bombs.

A commander in the Syrian Jaysh Al-'Aza faction, Mustafa Bakour, added that Iranians are also present at the Maharda power station and in the city of Qamahana, and that Iranian military advisors are present in the cities of Ma'an, Suran, and Taybat Al-Imam.[4]


[1] A movement that is part of the Free Syrian Army and operates north of Homs.

[2] A movement that operates from outside Iran against the Iranian regime and its officials. In 1997 it was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and in 2002 by the E.U.

[3] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), April 28, 2018.

[4] Orient-news.net, May 5, 2018.