Last July, a meeting between the Iranian General, Qassem Soleimani, and the Russian President, Validimir Putin, in Moscow was leaked to the media by western intelligence. While the contents of the meeting still secret, it's believed that the two men discussed the deteriorating situation in Syria where forces loyal to the current President, Bashar Al Assad, lost most of Idlib province, part of Daraa and Homs provinces. Shortly after the meeting, Iranian media reported about a greater military involvement of Russia in Syria alongside Iranian (affiliated) forces. In September, two major developments occurred. First, independent sources confirmed the transfer of Russian military assets to Syria including modern ground-attack aircrafts, air superiority fighters, armored vehicles. Second, a great "anti-terror" alliance between Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria (or what remains of it) was announced. When Russia launched its first "anti-IS" airstrikes against "non-IS" forces it was unclear how this new alliance with Iran would materialize on the ground. Many believed Iran was already all out and couldn't do more in Syria. Further evidences show Iran, alongside Russia, has stepped up support for Syria after the Soleimani-Putin meeting.
- Iran increased its train & equip program for the National Defence Forces (NDF) and Syrian Army (SAA) shortly after the meeting. More fighters are now being formed in Lattakia ahead of an Idlib/Aleppo offensive. Announced retreating Pictures shared on social media also suggest Iranian made TOW ATGMs (Toofan) were delivered late June-July.
Iranian made TOW ATGMs also recently showed up in Aleppo in Kataib Sayed al Shuhada's hands, an Iraqi shia group. Some of Harkat Al Nujaba, another Iraqi shia group, members are also known to have been trained on iranian made TOW ATGMs by Hezbollah instructors.
As pointed here, the presence of Iran Electronic industry security seal (the green tape), the 3 yellow bands on the tripod, the dark green missile cover, and the 4 letters serial are all Iranian made TOW's distinctive sign.
- Video posted by rebels fighters in Hama region also indicate a close cooperation between Iran and Russia regarding intelligence gathering on rebels fighters. Videos show Iranian Mohajer 4 UAV are flying over the same area bombed by Russia.
- One of the most used Iranian vehicle in Iraq, the Safir tactical is also showing up in Syria. An M-40 106 mm recoilless mounted Safir tactical was recently used in Al Ghab plain against Syrian rebels and their allies.
Far from being exhausted after a 4,5 year civil war, Iran and Russia decided to double down on Syria, regain lost territories and pursue the political solution in a better position.
Special thanks to
Oryx Blog and Ivan Sidorenko