Russia is helping Iran violate a UN Security Council embargo and transport arms and munitions to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, anonymous sources in western intelligence agencies have told Fox News.
According to Fox, Russia has conducted unregistered cargo flights into Syria twice a day for the past 10 days. These flights delivered Iranian weapons to the Russian-operated air base outside of Latakia, Syria. Latakia is a strategic city on the Mediterranean coast, within the part of Syria still controlled by the Assad regime.
Russia is conducting airstrikes in support of the Assad regime using planes that it’s based in Latakia. Since the end of September, the Syrian military — bolstered through Russian air support and an influx of Iranian-backed militia members — have pushed outwards from Latakia towards Aleppo, pre-conflict Syria’s most populous city, in an effort to roll back a series of rebel victories in the neighbouring areas.
Fox reports that the Iranian weapons transfers have been coordinated by Iranian top covert operative Qassem Soleimani and Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. Soleimani, who is the head of the Iranian Al-Quds force, was previously spotted near the front lines in Aleppo earlier this month.
The transport of Iranian arms into Syria come as the US has petitioned Iraq to close its airspace to Moscow, as these resupply flights would have to cross Iraqi airspace in order to avoid flying over Turkey, a NATO member. Baghdad has agreed to prohibit Russia from conducting airstrikes within its country. But Iraq is disregarding the US’s requests and will still allow Russian military aircraft to fly resupply missions over its airspace into Syria, according to Bill Gertz of the Washington Times.
Marine Corps. Gen. Joseph Dunford confirmed at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday that Russian aircraft had flown through Iraqi airspace, but that it was “not at the understanding of the Iraqi government.”
Despite Dunford’s statements, it appears that Iraq, Iran, Russia are all on a similar page when it comes to the situation in Syria. The four countries also began sharing intelligence at the end of September about ISIS movements and locations.
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