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Reports: Secret visit by Iran’s IRGC chief to Syria, Iraq

October 20, 2023 at 1:07 pm

Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force, Esmail Qaani speaks in a ceremony for commemorating death anniversary of an IRGC’s Quds force commander in Tehran, December 20, 2022. [Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

A “secret” two-day visit by the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), General Esmail Qaani, to Syria on 15 October and later to Iraq suggest Iran might not use Lebanon as a base to respond to Israel’s attacks, Iranian and Iraqi sources said yesterday according to the Arab Post website.

The aims of Qaani’s visit to Damascus was to raise the state of alert to the maximum for Iran’s allies in Syria, and establish a joint operations room in both Syria and Iraq to monitor the current situation and coordinate the deployment of forces.

Security sources revealed to the Syrian Sawt Al-Asimah news site that special units belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah militia had been deployed off the Israeli border with Syria.

According to the sources, groups from the Radwan unit of the Hezbollah militia recently arrived in Syria and were deployed near Israel.

Meanwhile, Hebrew media said the Radwan unit is considered the “elite unit” of the Hezbollah militia, and has a missile force capable of launching 3,000 missiles in one day towards Israel, adding that the militia members had been deployed along the Syrian-Israeli border within military formations affiliated with the Syrian regime army.

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The sources told Sawt Al-Asimah that officers and soldiers in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard have also arrived at the border from the town of Sayyida Zeinab in the Damascus countryside.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah also transferred weapons and military equipment from their warehouses in the town of Aqraba in Damascus countryside and from the vicinity of Damascus International Airport.

Qaani also supervised a number of training exercises for the Fatemiyoun and Zainabiyoun Brigades, which were placed on maximum alert.

An Iranian intelligence official close to the IRGC and the senior leadership told Arab Post: “Hezbollah is the strongest and most important member of the resistance axis, and sacrificing it will cost us a lot.”

The source said Hezbollah’s role is limited to keeping Israel’s northern front busy for the time being.

A source close to the Quds Force confirmed the intelligence official’s statement, telling the Arab Post that “Iran does not want to risk Hezbollah now, even though Hezbollah’s current military capabilities will be very effective in inflicting heavy losses on the Israelis.”