Several Iraqi faction leaders with allegiance to Iran have traveled to Syria and Lebanon following the Israeli conflict with the Gaza Strip. On Sunday, a senior Israeli official accused Iran of attempting to establish a second war front by deploying weapons through Syria, coinciding with Israel’s intensified counter-offensive in the south against Gaza. Simultaneously, United Nations humanitarian officials raised concerns on Thursday about a humanitarian crisis in rebel-controlled northwestern Syria. They issued a warning, citing that government forces’ heavy shelling had displaced nearly 70,000 people in recent weeks.
Leaders of Iraqi Pro-Iran Factions Head to Syria, Lebanon in Wake of Escalation in Gaza
The leaders of several Iraqi factions loyal to Iran have headed to Syria and Lebanon in the wake of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, informed Iraqi sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The sources said the leaders were accompanied by groups of fighters, whose task, at the moment, seems aimed at assessing the situation on the ground and following up with groups in Syria and Lebanon along border regions.
The Iraqi factions have received messages from Iran that the situation in Gaza does not demand direct intervention. This may change if the war expands and more parties become involved, they explained.
Moreover, leaders of the pro-Iran Coordination Framework in Iraq received a recommendation to wait and see how the situation unfolds in Gaza before any action can be taken.
Meanwhile, the faction leaders relayed the details of the situation along the border in Syria and Lebanon back to Iraq, said the sources.
They were briefed on maps and potential scenarios should a confrontation erupt, they added.
“The Iraqi factions are awaiting orders that haven’t arrived yet. They have no intention of moving without any clear Iranian orders,” they stressed.
In Iraq, Coordination Framework media have continued to promote the “Iraqi resistance’s readiness to head to the field and carry out attacks against American and Israeli interests.”
Deputy commander of Iran’s Quds Force Mohammad Reza Fallahzadeh and Iranian Ambassador to Baghdad Mohammad Kazem Al Sadeq recently held a meeting with former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and leaders of pro-Iran factions to request that the media intensify its campaign against Israel and support the Palestinian Hamas movement. They also called for signing up recruits to join the fight against Israel, informed sourced told Radio Farda.
Israeli official: Iran trying to deploy arms in or through Syria
A senior Israeli official accused Iran on Sunday of trying to open a second war front by deploying weapons in or through Syria as Israel steps up a counter-offensive in Gaza to the south.
Responding to a post of the X social-media platform that posited such a scenario, Joshua Zarka, head of strategic affairs for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said: “They (Iranians) are.”
The original post also said “the Israelis are determined to prevent” such developments. To that, Zarka responded” “We are.”
Israeli attack on Syrian Aleppo airport puts it out of service
Israel has launched an air strike against Syria’s Aleppo Airport late on Saturday that put it out of service, the Syrian defense ministry said.
“The Israeli enemy carried out an air attack from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea, west of Latakia, targeting Aleppo International Airport, which led to material damage to the airport and it being out of service,” the ministry added.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The airport just got to service on Saturday after simultaneous missile attacks by Israeli forces on the airports in Syria’s capital Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo had damaged the runways and put both hubs out of service on Thursday. read more
The Damascus airport is still out of service.
Sources have said strikes on the airports are intended to disrupt Iranian supply lines to Syria, where Tehran’s influence has grown since it began supporting President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war that started in 2011.
Intense shelling has displaced 70,000 people in northwest Syria, UN agencies warn
United Nations humanitarian officials sounded an alarm Thursday over a humanitarian crisis in rebel-held northwestern Syria, warning that intense shelling by government forces displaced almost 70,000 people in recent weeks, AP reported.
The Syrian government, backed by Russia, pounded the country’s northwest this month, especially after a drone attack targeted a military college graduation ceremony in the heart of the government-held city of Homs. At least 89 officers and civilians were killed, making it one of the deadliest attacks in the war-torn nation in years.
Humanitarian agencies and human rights organizations have reported Syrian and Russian strikes hitting hospitals, schools, and other civilian infrastructure as Syria endures the 13th year of a conflict that has killed a half-million people.
“We’re at the most significant escalation of hostilities since 2019,” David Carden, the U.N. deputy regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, said after meeting with displaced Syrians living in temporary shelters “What they want above all is to return home to their homes, but right now they do not feel safe to do so.”
The vast majority of the 4.5 million people living in Idlib and northern Aleppo provinces rely on humanitarian aid to survive, and almost half live in displacement camps. Northwestern Syria is controlled by the al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib province and by Turkish-backed groups in northern Aleppo province.
Shrinking budgets due to donor fatigue have humanitarian organizations struggling to respond to the growing needs in the impoverished enclave undergoing daily attacks.
SDF, Global Coalition arrest 7 ISIS militants in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor
North Press reports that the Counter-Terrorism Units (YAT) of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US-led Global Coalition, arrested on Sunday seven militants of Islamic State (ISIS) in the town of Shuhail, in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor Governorate, eastern Syria.
The SDF Media Center said that following thorough surveillance, the aforementioned forces executed an airdrop, carried out a raid on the terrorist cell’s hideout, and arrested seven militants actively engaged in perpetrating numerous acts of terrorism against both military forces and civilians in the region.
“This terrorist cell was actively involved in supplying weapons and ammunition to other cells in the region, as well as providing financial support,” according to the source.
In addition, the source mentioned that the cell had capitalized on the events that took place recently in Deir ez-Zor to carry out terrorist activities.
The operation led to the eruption of clashes between the SDF and gunmen affiliated with the dismissed leader and with Nawaf al-Bashir, leader of al-Baggara tribe and a pro-Iranian figure whose groups are active in the western bank of the Euphrates which is under the control of the Syrian government forces and Iranian-backed militias.
As a result of the operation, various weapons, military equipment, and important documents were seized, the SDF media center added.
“Our forces affirm their unwavering commitment to relentlessly pursue ISIS cells and to cut off their sources of support in the region,” according to the SDF.