Iran has begun excavating tunnels at its Imam Ali base in Syria near the Iraqi border that will be used to store and move weapons, according to new satellite images and a report from Fox News.
The base has been under construction for more than a year and is a key part of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria linking Iran via Iraq to Syria and Lebanon. Syrian, regional Arabic media and Russian sources have accused Israel of airstrikes at or near the location going back to June 2018.
The tunnels are estimated to be 130 meters long and wide enough to drive a car through. Image Sat International (ISI), which provided the satellite images and wrote a report, noted that at least one tunnel is being excavated and that the construction accelerated “a few weeks after the base was attacked for the first time,” on September 9, 2019. In the wake of that attack, an Iranian
Revolutionary Guard Corps group attempted to fire rockets at Israel from near Damascus.
Fox News said it consulted with Western intelligence sources which reviewed the information. The US has recently linked Iranian-backed groups to at least nine attacks near areas with US bases over the last year. These have involved rockets. In addition, Iraq’s government has accused Israel of several attacks in July and August. And Qais Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia that was sanctioned by the US last week, has threatened the US and Israel. A New York Times report last week said that Iran transferred short range ballistic missiles to Iraq.
Iran is building the Imam Ali base near a new border crossing at Albukamal in Syria. The border was reopened at the end of September after many years when it was closed due to the war on ISIS. But Iran’s base is in the desert just over some sand dunes near the crossing. It is now linked to the crossing.