Iranian military leaders admitted this week to building and operating missile-manufacturing plants in Syria, where it was also revealed that Tehran is helping to build a secret nuclear facility.
An Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander stated in a recent interview that the country’s Supreme Leader ordered forces to build and operate missile plants in Syria, where Iran continues to fight on behalf of embattled leader Bashar al-Assad, according to regional media reports.
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IRGC Aerospace Commander Haji Zadeh touted Iran’s capabilities and bragged that Iran has gone from importing most of its military hardware to producing it domestically, as well as for regional partners such as Assad.
"A country such as Syria which used to sell us arms, was later on to buy our missiles," Zadeh was quoted as saying earlier this week by the Young Journalists Club. "Right now the missile manufacturing firms in Syria are built by Iran."
It has long been suspected that Iranian forces operating in Syria are providing weaponry to Assad’s forces. Zadeh’s remarks confirm that Tehran is committed to a long fight in Syria and hopes to turn the country into an Iranian proxy state.
Iran's military actions in Syria could constitute a gross violation of sanctions on the regime enacted by the United Nations and Western powers.
Zadeh also bragged about Tehran’s ability to build missiles capable of travelling at least 2,000 kilometers, far enough to reach into Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, according to the report.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has made it a priority for Tehran to produce advanced missiles, Zadeh said.
"The Supreme Leader wanted us to make the missiles prices, something which he had noted earlier than that," he was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Der Spiegel reported over the weekend, based on leaked intelligence and other sources, that Iran has been helping to build a secret nuclear facility in Syria.
Western sources fear that Tehran is attempting to continue its controversial and clandestine nuclear work in Syria, where it does not have to battle against international nuclear inspectors and Western powers seeking to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Obama administration officials have sought to downplay the developments and said that they will not raise the issue with Iran during an upcoming round of talks over its program.
"Will you discuss this issue with the Iranians in the upcoming talks?" a reporter asked State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf on Monday.
"No," Harf replied. "The upcoming talks are about the Iranian nuclear program."
When pressed on the issue, Harf said that nuclear talks only focus on Iran’s domestic program and nothing else.
"We don’t discuss other issues with them at those talks, as you all know," she said.