Iran building ‘world’s largest military base’ in Syria: Israeli diplomat — Spending up to $35 billion on missile factories and an 82,000-strong deployment

 

Danny Danon (L) addressing the UN Security Council on Thursday. (UN Photo/Evan Schneider)
UNITED NATIONS: Iran is turning Syria into the “world’s largest military base”, spending up to $35 billion on missile factories and an 82,000-strong deployment in the country to threaten the region, Israeli diplomat Danny Danon said on Thursday.
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Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, said he was disclosing classified intelligence to the UN Security Council to show how Tehran’s “tentacles of terror” were spreading and posed a danger to Israel, the rest of the Middle East and beyond.
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“Iran’s military is actively training these militant extremists from all over the world and using Syria as its strategic base,” Danon told UN diplomats in New York.
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“It is also building missile factories in Syria, in effect turning the innocent people in the surrounding area into human shields. Iran is turning the entire country of Syria into the largest military base in the world.”
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Iran’s UN ambassador was set to speak later at the same meeting. Tehran asserts that its military operations in Syria are against Daesh and other groups in support of the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
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Tehran commands 82,000 fighters in Syria – 3,000 from its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, 9,000 from its proxy militia Hezbollah, 10,000 Shiite recruits from Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan and some 60,000 local fighters, Danon said.
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The Islamic Republic has spent as much as $35 billion on bases, troops and missile factories in Syria, he said. It spends $800 million annually on Hezbollah, and $100 million each on proxy militias in Yemen, Gaza, Syria and Iraq, Danon added.
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Sanctions relief under the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, the US and other world powers unfroze cash now being spent by Iran’s generals, he said. Such spending grew from 17 percent of the government’s budget in 2014 to 22 percent in 2017.
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“That’s $23bn spent on missiles, arms and other weapons of war,” he said. “The Shiite Crescent searches far beyond Israel, and it is larger and more powerful than ever, and it is aiming for the whole world.”
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Syria’s eight-year-old war has claimed 500,000 lives and forced 5.5 million Syrians to flee the country.
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Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf countries, the US and Israel have repeatedly warned of Iranian aggression in the region, which Tehran denies. Saudi Arabia was also set to address the UN Security Council on Thursday.
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Satellite image of alleged Iranian base in Syria (Airbus, Digital Globe and McKenzie Intelligence Services/BBC)

Satellite image of alleged Iranian base in Syria (Airbus, Digital Globe and McKenzie Intelligence Services/BBC)
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