More complex, but not impossible…
IRAN’S POWER PLAY SHOWS DEPTH OF MISSILE THREAT
Together the missile threats represent a creeping power play by Tehran at the same time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted Jerusalem will continue to act against threats, and after John Bolton visited Jerusalem in mid-August.
By reportedly basing its missiles near Russian forces in northern Syria and near US-led Coalition forces in Iraq, Iran is trying to protect its missiles while threatening Israel and potentially dragging Israel into a regional conflict should Jerusalem strike at these facilities. Tehran seeks to play this dangerous regional missile game as it carves out an arc of influence from Baghdad via Damascus to Lebanon.
On August 30th, ImageSat International released a report noting that “Tehran is a major contributor to the Syrian missile project, including building the new SSM facility near Baniyas.” ImageSat International had previously released satellite images of the Wadi Jahanamm site last August. But the new details link the Wadi Jahannam facility to the nearby Masyaf facility which was repeatedly hit by IAF air-strikes. Both Masyaf and the other site are “located within the operational range of an S-400 deployment” because they are close to Russian facilities at Tartus on the coast.
The warnings about the development at the Syrian site come as a new report emerged that Iran has sent missiles to its allies in Iraq. Iran has transferred three missile types into Iraq, including its latest Zolfaghar (Zulfiqar) missile, which is a solid-fueled short range ballistic missile capable of reaching a range of 700 km. It was first used in a strike by Iran against Islamic State in June 2017, and was fired from Kermanshah, Iraq. Its deployment there puts it within range of Israel.
The Zolfaghar is complimented by Fateh 110 short range, road-mobile missiles that can reach up to 300 km. To reach Israel, these missiles would have to be deployed in Iraq’s Western Desert. According to the report, Iran also transported Zelzal-3 rockets that can reach up to 250 km. Iranian and Iraqi sources told Reuters that Iran had made a decision to produce missiles in Iraq. A Western source said that factories had been established east of Baghdad and north of Kerbala. “It seems Iran has been turning Iraq into its forward missile base.” Kata’ib Hezbollah, a Shi’ite militia in Iraq that is allied to Iran, controls the areas where the missiles are located. It shares a similar name and role as Lebanese Hezbollah, but is a separate militia.