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Exclusive: Iran Begins Developing Air Defense Systems in Syria

September 27, 2020
Ahmad Salloum
4 min read
Exclusive: Iran Begins Developing Air Defense Systems in Syria

On September 22, Iranian authorities announced that they would strengthen Syrian air defense systems by providing Damascus with its own air defense equipment, including short, medium, and long-range systems.

A spokesman for the Iranian armed forces, Brigadier General Abu Al-Fazl Shakerji, said that his country would strengthen Syrian air defenses on the basis of the contract signed between the two states in July of this year.

Iran and Syria signed a comprehensive military and security cooperation agreement in July, primarily focusing on the development of Syrian air defense systems. Iran said at the time that its goal was to counter the dozens of raids launched by Israel and the United States on Syrian military positions and those hosting Iranian forces or their militias.

According to the Iranian News Agency, Fars, during a recent visit to Syria by the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Muhammad Hussein Bagheri, the decision to strengthen the country's air defense system came at the request of the Syrian regime.

On July 19, a Twitter account called “Syria My Homeland” posted that "Iran's advanced Khordad system will soon be in the Syrian air defense's possession.”


Has Iran Started Supplying Military Reinforcements to Syria?

Information obtained by IranWire from a Syrian military source, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, confirms that Tehran has already started sending military equipment to reinforce air defenses.

The source told IranWire that Tehran had sent several weapons shipments to Damascus International Airport, from Tehran, on July 20. The cargo was immediately unloaded and transported to the Jabal Al-Mana area in the Al-Kiswah region of Damascus countryside.

The source, who is from the 1st Division and is close to the Iranian militia in Syria, explained that the weapons that reached Damascus were hidden inside tunnels in the Jabal Al-Mana region and at the 1st Division's warehouses.

He pointed out that a day after the shipment arrived, Israel shelled locations at which such weapons were deployed. These raids were repelled by the Syrian air defenses surface-to-air missiles located at Mezzeh airport and Mount Qassioun.

The source, speaking to an IranWire correspondent in Syria, added that among these shipments were a number of air defense systems, but that they have not yet been completely assembled as the systems are transported in parts.

Among the systems that have entered Syria are the Khordad-3, Pavar-373 and Khordad-15 systems, jamming devices, Bashir 3D radar, shoulder-fired missiles, and surface-to-air missiles.

According to the military source, these weapons were deployed in the Al-Kiswah area near Jabal Al-Mana; Marj Al-Sultan airport in Ghouta, Damascus, near the city of Izraa; Mezzeh military airport; T4 airport; Al-Dameer military airport; the 20th Division and its radar brigade; the 24th Air Defense Division; and the Al-Nasiriyah area with the 555th Regiment. The platforms were also installed in the Al-Sukhnah region; in the Shanshar region north of Homs; in Deir Al-Zour near Al-Hamdan airport and the Imam Ali base; and in Al-Thalah military airport near Al-Suwayda.


What Are Iranian-made Pavar and Khordad Systems?

The source explained that Pavar-373 is an advanced hybrid system based on the Russian S-300, capable of detecting and intercepting cruise missiles and stealth aircraft such as the US-made F22 and F35, with a range of 250km and a radar range of 350km.

The Khordad-15 system can monitor targets using its PESA radar from a distance of 150km and engage six targets simultaneously, including light targets such as F-35 fighter jets, from a distance of up to 45km.

The source pointed out that the Khordad-3 is a medium range air defense system with a missile range between 50km to 105km. The system has previously been used to shoot down US RQ 4 drones over Persian Gulf waters.


How Do Iranian Weapons Reach Syria?

The military source explained that shipments for these air defense systems arrive in Syria through a number of methods, including transportation through the Iranian militia's border near the Al-Qaim crossing with Iraq, which then pass through the Al-Kum fields in the Syrian desert to Palmyra, Al-Sukhnah, and Homs.

These shipments also arrive by air via Damascus International Airport, and are transported at night to avoid shelling from Israeli or international coalition aircraft. Iran possesses a large number of warehouses at three-quarters of the Syrian military's barracks, notably in the Qalamoun Mountains, near Dameer airport, in the Al-Kiswah region, and in Qatna in the Damascus countryside.

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