Israeli satellite imaging firm contends Iran’s ‘land bridge’ is under attack, assessing how Iran’s strategic route from Tehran to the Mediterranean for the transfer of Iranian weapons to groups like Hezbollah in Syria or Lebanon can no longer be completed with impunity.
One day after another mysterious explosion rocked arms depots belonging to Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias in Iraq, Israeli satellite imaging firm ImageSat International (ISI) claimed that Iran’s land bridge to Syria and Lebanon is under attack.
According to the assessment released on Thursday, three sites with storage hangers in the Baghdad area have been attacked in the last month.
“These sites are probably ammunition storages, possibly for missiles and unique weapons,” ISI said, adding that the “attack aimed to destroy the Iranian land bridge from Tehran to Syria and Lebanon as well as to prevent the Iranian capability of conducting attacks from the Iraqi territory against surrounding countries.”
On Tuesday, explosions rocked an arms depot belonging to the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) near Balad air base some 80 km. north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. According to ISI, which released images of the site taken on Thursday, shipping containers that had been stored at the base were completely destroyed in an airstrike.
An earlier strike on August 12 targeted another munitions depot southwest of Baghdad that belongs to Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias, killing one civilian and injuring 13 others. ISI assessed that the warehouse, which measured 140 by 180 m., belonged to the Hashd al-Shaabi militia and was located in the Iraqi Al-Saqr military base.
“The main building is destroyed, with significant collateral damage signs,” ISI said, adding that, “based on the observed damage characteristics in this image, it is probable that the blast was caused by an airstrike followed by secondary explosions of the explosives stored in the place.”
Last month in Iraq’s northern Salaheddin province, an explosion rocked another military base in Amerli, killing two people.
For a number of years now, Iran has been trying to establish a 1,200 km. length land bridge from Tehran to the Mediterranean.
In May, satellite images taken by ISI showed that Iran has been building a new border crossing – 2.6 km. west of the official Al-Bukamal Al-Qaim border crossing – which would expedite the transfer of weapons from Tehran to groups like Hezbollah in Syria or Lebanon.
Israeli officials have warned that Iran is attempting to entrench itself in Iraq – a mainly Shia country – as it has in Syria, where it established and consolidated a parallel security structure. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at Israel’s role in the strikes, saying that “Iran has no immunity, anywhere.”
Also on Thursday, the head of Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi, Faleh Al-Fayyadh – who serves as the Iraqi government’s national security adivsor – walked back on the accusation that the United States or Israel were behind the explosions, saying that investigators had yet to determine who was behind them.
On Wednesday, his deputy Abu Mehdi Al-Muhandis claimed that the blasts were carried out by “agents or by special operations with modern aircraft.” Muhandis, who has been designated by Washington, said that the group holds the Americans forces “as the first and last entity responsible for what happened,” adding that “we will hold them responsible for whatever happens from today onwards.”
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