Iran building additional military base outside of Damascus

Base includes two storage facilities for short and medium-range missiles; Base similar in design to Iran’s al-Kiswah base in Syria; Lieberman: Base nothing new under the sun.



Iran has built another permanent base outside of Damascus, satellite imagery released of the base by Fox News and Israeli media on Wednesday.

The base is operated by the Quds Force, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard special forces and includes two storage facilities for missiles. The warehouses are between 18 by 30 meters and can be used for storing short to medium-range missiles capable of hitting Israel.

Satellite imagery of the base just eight miles outside of Damascus show the base under construction, the design of the base similar to Iran’s other permanent base, al-Kiswah, located around ten miles from Damascus and about 30 miles from Israel’s border. Satellite footage of al-Kiswah from the BBC and Israel in November of last year showed the base’s ongoing construction.

Iran has been actively building its military presence in Syria since 2011 in order to assist President Bashar al-Assad remain in power. Iran currently operates 10 military bases in Syria. Along with its proxies in Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, Iran continues to build its military presence and influence in the region.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied his country has any bases in Syria last week after multiple media reports refuted Iran’s claims it has no military bases in Syria. He claimed while speaking at the “Russia in the Middle East: Playing on All Fields” event in Moscow last Monday that “we [Iran]  do not have them [in Syria].” He did confirm that there are “Iranian military advisors” in Syria.

Israel’s Defense Minister responded to the reports of the new base this morning, stating with Iran there is “nothing new under the sun, and there is no need to treat all information in the media as absolute.” He warned that Israel is ”listening and following the events. We will also act in the international realm to achieve everything possible.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed Iran’s military presence and efforts in Syria directly during the recent Munich Security Conference, directly referring to Zarif as “smooth-talking mouthpiece of Iran’s regime.” During his speech he brought a piece of the Iranian drone Israel downed two weeks ago. On Iran’s growing presence in Syria, he stated “Nowhere are Iran’s belligerent ambitions clearer than in Syria. There Iran hopes to complete a continuous empire, linking Tehran to Tartus, the Caspian to the Mediterranean.”

He reiterated and warned “I made clear in word and deed that Israel has red lines it will enforce. Israel will continue to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria. Israel will continue to act to prevent Iran from establishing another terror base from which to threaten Israel. Iran continues to try to cross those red lines.”



Photo: Satellite imagery of the base outside of Damascus, (ImageSat International), 2018.

Netanyahu to meet with Trump next week

PM to travel to USA on Saturday for five day tour; Meeting scheduled with Trump; Netanyahu thanks Trump Administration for relocating embassy, announces state ceremony.



Israel announced it will hold a state ceremony to honor the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed the ceremony during his weekly cabinet meeting and ahead of his visit to the United States and meeting with President Trump next week.

Israel hopes to hold the ceremony on May 14, 2018- Israel’s 70th independence day. Netanyahu is expected to formally invite President Trump during their meeting next week.

On the announcement that the United States would relocate its embassy to Jerusalem in May, the prime minister stated “This is a great moment for the citizens of Israel, and this is a historic moment for the State of Israel. We will celebrate it together, all citizens of Israel.” He added that “This will have significant and historic long-range implications,” thanking the Trump Administration, stating “On behalf of the entire government and people, I would like to thank President Trump for both his leadership and his friendship. President Trump, you are a great friend of the State of Israel and we all thank you.”

On his decision to move the embassy sooner amidst global outcry and rejection, President Trump stated last week, “I put the word out that I may do it. I was hit by more countries and more pressure and more people calling, begging me, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it.’ I said we have to do it. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do, we have to do it. And I did it.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu will travel to the United States on Saturday night for a five-day tour.



Photo: Netanyahu & Trump in Israel, Wikimedia Commons, MFA, 2017.

Russian Sukhoi Su-57 stealth jets deployed in Syria

Satellite imagery from Israel and abroad confirm Sukhoir Su-57 jets deployed in Syria; Russia to introduce squadron of 12 into air force this year; Pentagon: We do not consider these jets to be a threat to our operations in Syria, and will continue to deconflict operations as necessary.



Russia deployed its Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jets in Syria, Israeli satellites capturing footage of the jet’s first combat drill in Syria.

The Sukhoi Su-57 is Russia’s most advanced fighter jet and has been deployed to Russia’s Khmeimim Airbase in western Syria. The stealth jets are fifth generation and are Russia’s most advanced aircraft. The Su-57 has supersonic flight speed, low visibility and runs on two engines.

It has been in development since 2010, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister reporting earlier this month that Russia signed a contract for 12 Su-57’s to be introduced to the Russian military forces thus year.

The Sukhoi Su-57 in Syria follows the United States’ deployment of its F-22 stealth fighters to Syria, the jets in missions combatting Islamic State forces in Syria earlier this month.

The Pentagon reported that the jets are not seen as a threat by the United States, a spokesman stating ahead of the weekend, “The addition of fifth-generation fighters into Syria would certainly not be in keeping with Russia’s announced force drawdown. We do not consider these jets to be a threat to our operations in Syria, and will continue to deconflict operations as necessary.”



Photo: Sukhoi Su-57, Wikimedia Commons, 2018

Nikki Haley: President Trump’s peace plan nearly finished.

Haley addressed peace process in Chicago following Abbas’s address to the UN Security Council; Haley: The plan won’t be loved by either side. And it won’t be hated by either side. But it’s a template to start talking.

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United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, addressed the Trump Administration’s efforts in the peace process, reporting that the peace plan is “nearly finished”.

Speaking at the University of Chicago ahead of the weekend, Haley took questions on the Middle East and President Trump’s efforts in the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis. On the progress of the process, she stated “I think they’re finishing up,” reporting that Trump’s envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt are “still going back and forth”.

While Haley did not give specifics, she did state that “The plan won’t be loved by either side. And it won’t be hated by either side. But it’s a template to start talking.” When asked about a two-state solution, she reiterated the United States’ stance, “It’s for them to decide. It is hard for me to see how they would want a single state.” She added “If they decide on two states, the United States will support two states. If they decide on certain boundaries, the United States is going to support those boundaries.”

She called on leaders to place their pride and ego aside, stating “The Palestinians deserve better and the Israelis deserve better. Right now they’re in conflict. It’s not a good situation. If the leaders would put aside their pride and their ego, and think about their people, and improving the quality of life for their people, this peace process will do that.”

Her remarks follow Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s address to the United Nations Security Council last week. Abbas called for a Middle East peace conference to be held this year, the Palestinians active in trying to find global mediators to replace the United States.

Following President Trump’s declaration of the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year, and the moving of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Palestinians have banned communication with the United States, consistently attacking the United States in international bodies and the media. The PA has been clear that it no longer sees the United States as a mediator, its officials in talks with China, India and Russia to replace the United States.

Following Abbas’s speech to the Security Council, Haley spoke, stating to Abbas “The United States knows the Palestinian leadership was very unhappy with the decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem. You don’t have to like that decision, you don’t have to praise it. You don’t even have to accept it. But know this, that decision will not change.”


Photo: Haley speaks in Chicago, Screenshot, 2017

Trump Administration to open US Embassy in Jerusalem in May

Opening to coincide with Israel’s 70 years of independence in May; PLO: This is a violation of agreements between the PA and Israel and the destruction of the two-state solution, in addition to provoking all Arabs and Muslims.



The United States will move its embassy to Jerusalem in May of this year. The expedited move will coincide with Israel’s 70th independence celebration in May, the State Department and two Trump Administration officials confirming the relocation Friday.

The United States Congress will reportedly be notified on Friday and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been reported to have signed a security plan for the new embassy.

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas responded to the news, stating Friday “This is an unacceptable step. Any unilateral move will not give legitimacy to anyone and will be an obstacle to any effort to create peace in the region.” The secretary-general of the PLO, Saeb Erekat, claimed the decision would provoke the Arab world. Continuing with the Palestinians’ anti-US rhetoric, he warned “This is a violation of agreements between the PA and Israel and the destruction of the two-state solution, in addition to provoking all Arabs and Muslims.”

Israel’s Transportation Minister took to Twitter to thank President Trump, writing Friday “I would like to congratulate Donald Trump, the President of the US POTUS on his decision to transfer the US Embassy to our capital on Israel’s 70th Independence Day. There is no greater gift than that! The most just and correct move. Thanks friend!”

Prime Minister Netanyahu met with US House of Representatives in Jerusalem ahead of the weekend, their meeting centered on bilateral ties and “Iran’s attempts to establish a military presence in Syria.” According to a statement from his office, “Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked the Senators and Representatives for the American support for Israel and welcomed President Trump’s decision to implement the law recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. He added that bilateral relations were closer than ever.”

The prime minister was not available for immediate comment as it is the Sabbath in Israel.



Photo: Jerusalem, Wikimedia Commons, 2017

IDF intelligence unit foiled ISIS terror attack in Australia last year

Cleared for publication: IDF Unit 8200 help thwart attempted ISIS terror attack on Etihad flight from Sydney last summer; Netanyahu: I think that Israeli intelligence must be thanked for protecting not only Israelis but many civilians around the world.


The IDF’s Military Intelligence Unit, Unit 8200, helped in thwarting an attempted ISIS terror attack on a commercial flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi in July of last year.

The terror attack was planned for an Etihad Airways flight from Sydney, reports of the events only cleared for publication Wednesday.

Islamic State terrorists were planning to board a flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi with an explosive device. They were also planning an attack using hydrogen sulfide gas. The terrorists were sent materials to build the bomb from Turkey, and had been recruited into ISIS through one of the terrorists’ brothers who was trained in Syria.

Four arrests were made at the time, Australia charging Khaled and Mahmoud Khayat, brothers, with two charges of terrorism.

The IDF confirmed its contribution to preventing the attack, stating on Wednesday “The thwarting of the attack led to the saving of the lives of dozens of innocent people and demonstrated that Unit 8200 is a player in the intelligence war against the Islamic State.”

It confirmed the reports that it “provided exclusive intelligence that led to the thwarting of an airliner bombing by Islamic State at the end of 2017,” adding that “The cooperation with the Israeli intelligence community allowed for the transfer of information to the local security authorities and led to the arrest of the suspects, who were in the advanced stages of preparations and close to executing the attack. The foiling of the attack led to saving dozens of innocent lives and demonstrates that Unit 8200 is a player in the intelligence battle against Islamic State.”

The IDF also confirmed that it recently thwarted an attempted Iranian cyber attack on organizations within Israel. Few details were given, just that Unit 8200 worked in cooperation with the Cyber Defense Division in the Computer Service Directorate, through “monitoring of the Iranian apparatus and early identification of offensive attempts in Israel.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed the reports on Wednesday while speaking to American Jewish community leaders. He stated “The Israeli intelligence services thwarted the downing of an Australian plane, an unimaginable slaughter. This would have caused a major disruption in global air transport and this is only one of dozens of terrorist attacks we have foiled around the world. I think that Israeli intelligence must be thanked for protecting not only Israelis but many civilians around the world.”

Amir addressed these events during his Middle East Current Events Update yesterday. You can watch the update here.

Photo: Etihad airways, Wikimedia Commons, 2017