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Iran smuggled arms into Syria under guise of quake aid

Tehran and its proxies hid weapons for use against American troops in relief shipments, U.S. intel leak shows.

Iranian aid to Syria after the devastating earthquake of Feb. 6, 2023. Photo by Salem Mohammadi via Wikimedia Commons.
Iranian aid to Syria after the devastating earthquake of Feb. 6, 2023. Photo by Salem Mohammadi via Wikimedia Commons.

The massive U.S. intelligence leak last month included a classified document showing that Iran and its proxies exploited earthquake relief intended for Syria to smuggle arms into the country.

In addition to obtaining the U.S. intelligence assessment circulated on the Discord messaging platform along with hundreds of other top-secret documents, The Washington Post report on the matter also sourced an Israeli military official.

Iran-backed militias and the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force brought small arms, ammunition and drones into Syria in convoys from Iraq, the newspaper reported.

Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces and the Iranian Red Crescent remove debris and provide aid in Aleppo, Syria, Feb. 23, 2023. Photo by Salem Mohammadi via Wikimedia Commons.

Reuters also reported last month that Tehran took advantage of the earthquakes that devastated parts of Syria and Turkey in early February, killing tens of thousands, to smuggle weapons and military equipment.

The news agency cited Western, Israeli, Iranian and Syrian sources who said that Iran used as cover the humanitarian relief that poured into Syria after the Feb. 6 quake, the worst natural disaster in the region in a century according to the World Health Organization.

Iran and its proxies moved swiftly to exploit humanitarian aid, according to the document obtained by the Washington Post. A day after the 7.8 and 7.7 magnitude temblors, a militia group “allegedly orchestrated the transfer of rifles, ammunition and 30 UAVs hidden in aid convoys to support future attacks on U.S. forces in Syria.”

On Feb. 13, an officer from the Quds Force directed an Iraqi militia group to “embed weapons within legitimate earthquake aid,” the intelligence assessment stated.

Israel’s Alma Research and Education Center, which specializes in the country’s northern security challenges, also affirmed to JNS recently that Tehran has been attempting to use humanitarian aid shipments to Syria as cover for this smuggling effort.

A series of airstrikes in Syria between March 30 and April 4, attributed by international media to Israel, is a reflection of intensified Iranian weapons smuggling, according to the Alma Center.

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