Leaked US Intel Files Reveal Iran Smuggled Weapons Hidden in Earthquake Relief to Syria

Iran and allied proxy groups have been smuggling weapons into Syria concealed within aid shipments sent in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake earlier this year, the Washington Post reported Sunday. A classified US intelligence assessment was shared on the online messaging platform Discord, where other sensitive American government documents have recently circulated. A suspect accused of leaking the files was charged last month.

According to the report, many of the weapons — among them small arms, ammunition and drones — were brought in convoys from Iraq organized by Iran-backed militias there along with the Quds Force, the unit in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps tasked with overseas operations.

The intelligence file indicated that Iran moved to swiftly exploit the February 7 earthquake, which killed tens of thousands in Syria and neighbouring Turkey, as a day later an unspecified Iraqi militia group “allegedly orchestrated the transfer of rifles, ammunition and 30 [drones] hidden in aid convoys to support future attacks on US forces in Syria.”

It added that days later, a Quds Force officer told another Iraqi paramilitary to hide weapons “within legitimate earthquake aid.” Another Iranian officer was quoted saying that he had a list of “hundreds” of transport vehicles that crossed into Syria from Iraq since the earthquake.

The report said the “chief of staff” of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, seemingly referring to Abdul-Aziz al-Mohammadawi — who is under US sanctions — was complicit in the smuggling. The PMF, an umbrella organization of militias that enjoys backing from Iran, denied that either it or affiliated groups have exploited the aid deliveries to ferry arms to Syria.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shiaa al-Sudani’s office would not comment on the record but a senior official dismissed the smuggling allegations in the US document as “fake,” arguing no pretext was necessary to ship weapons to Syria.

The newspaper said an unnamed Israeli military official confirmed the Quds Force’s involvement, without giving further details. The report also said the aid shipments were complicating Israel’s targeting of arms deliveries for Iranian proxies. But it predicted Israeli forces were “very likely” to continue working to intercept them but will need “stricter intelligence confirmation before striking alleged aid shipments.”

The United States has about 900 troops in posts across northeastern Syria to keep pressure on the remnants of the Islamic State group and support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which control most of the northeast. It also maintains the al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria, which has been targeted in suspected Iranian drone attacks.

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Times of Israel
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