Iran will help to strengthen Syrian air defense capabilities as part of a wider military security agreement between the two countries, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri said on July 8. The statement was made after the signing of a new military cooperation agreement in Damascus.
The agreement provides for the expansion of military and security cooperation and the continuation of coordination between the Armed Forces of the two countries. Major General Baqeri said that the signed deal “increases our will to work together in the face of US pressure.”
“If the American administrations had been able to subjugate Syria, Iran and the axis of resistance, they would not have hesitated for a moment,” he said.
The major general emphasized that Israel is a “powerful partner” of the US in the war against Syria, claiming that terrorist groups constituted part of the Israeli aggression.
In their turn, the United States and Israel insist that Iran and Hezbollah are responsible for the destabilization of Syria and prepare what they call ‘terrorist attacks’ against the US and Israel. In the framework of this approach, Israel, with direct and indirect help from the US, regularly conducts strikes on various supposedly ‘Iranian targets’ across Syria. Often these strikes concur with large-scale attacks of al-Qaeda-linked groups and ISIS on positions of the Syrian Army and its allies. One of the main points of Israeli concern is the growing military infrastructure of pro-Iranian forces near al-Bukamal, on the Syrian-Iraqi border. Therefore, the announced move by Iran to boost Syrian air defenses, including possible deployment of additional air defense systems, is a logical step for them to take to protect their own interests.
Clashes between the Syrian Army and Turkish-backed militants were ongoing in western Aleppo late on July 8 and early on July 9. According to pro-militant sources, the army destroyed at least one bulldozer and killed 2 members of the National Front for Liberation. Turkish proxies insist that their mortar strikes on army positions also led to casualties.
In southern Idlib, the Syrian Army shelled positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham near Ruwaihah after the terrorist group sent additional reinforcements there under the cover of the ceasefire regime. On the morning of July 9th, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham units continued their deployment in the area. Since the signing of the March 5 ceasefire agreement between Turkey and Russia, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has been openly working to strengthen its positions in southern Idlib. Despite the successes in the conducting of joint Russian-Turkish patrols along the M4 highway, which even reached Jisr al-Shughur, the highway itself and the agreed security zone area along it in fact remain in the hands of Idlib militants.
Pro-ISIS sources claimed that the terrorist group’s cells have ambushed a unit of pro-government forces in the Homs-Deir Ezzor desert destroying at least one vehicle. These claims have yet to be confirmed. However, the situation in central Syria has recently deteriorated due to the increase in ISIS attacks and government forces are now conducting active security operations there.