Syrian outlets reported on three separate waves of airstrikes, attributed to Israel, against targets of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), pro-Iranian militias and the Syrian regime. The targets are reportedly linked to the transfer of advanced weaponry from Iran.
The head of the Iranian Pilgrimage Organization met in Damascus with the Syrian minister of transportation and discussed with him promoting religious tourism from Iran to the Shia holy sites in Syria. Meanwhile, the flights of Iranian pilgrims from the city of Mashhad to Damascus resumed after a months-long pause.
Iran welcomed the end of the political deadlock in Iraq and the formation of a new government headed by Mohammad Shaya’a al-Sudani. The Iranian President Raisi sent a congratulatory message to the prime-minister-elect, and the Iranian ambassador to Baghdad met him shortly after his nomination was confirmed by the Iraqi parliament.
The deputy Iranian minister of foreign affairs visited northern Iraq and discussed with senior Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) official bolstering of trade ties between Iran and the Kurdistan region. The visit was conducted against the backdrop of growing tension between Iran and the KRG due to Iranian strikes on centers and targets linked to the Iranian-Kurdish armed opposition based in northern Iraq.
In an interview with the al-Jazeera TV network, the Secretary General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) praised the Iranian assistance to the Palestinians and to his organization. Nonetheless, he mentioned that the Iranian assistance to the militant group does not meet the needs of the PIJ, and that Hamas has received the majority of Iranian assistance that reached the Gaza Strip in recent years.
Iranian Involvement in Syria
The Syrian Foreign Minister, Faisal Mekdad, arrived on November 2 for a three-day visit to Tehran, during which he met with senior Iranian officials, including President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Amir Hossein Abdollahian. In his meeting with the Syrian Foreign Minister, President Raisi emphasized the need to ensure the full implementation of the agreements signed between the two countries and said that after years of crisis and conflict, Syria is now in a position that allows it to expand its strategic ties with Iran into new areas while focusing on economic cooperation
The official Syrian Arab News Agency reported (October 22) that Syrian air defense batteries were activated in the area of Damascus following Israeli strikes. The statement of the Syrian Army claimed that on October 21, at around 23:03, the Israeli Air Force operating northeast of the Sea of Tiberias struck a number of targets in the environs of Damascus, and that Syrian air defense systems were activated and successfully intercepted most of the missiles. Syrian opposition-affiliated outlets reported that among the targets hit were a facility used by the IRGC’s Qods Force near the Damascus International Airport, and a cache of weaponry of the pro-Iranian militias west of Damascus (Ayn al-Furat, October 22). Another report stated that the attack in Damascus was aimed at storage facilities of Unit 4400 of Hezbollah, which is charged with transferring weaponry and military equipment to Lebanese Hezbollah and operates in coordination with Unit 190 of the IRGC (al-Hadath, October 23). Mid-day on October 24, the official Syrian state agency again reported on new Israeli airstrikes, during which Israel fired a barrage of missiles from Israeli territory toward a number of targets in the Damascus area. According to one report, the strikes hit sites storing shipments of weaponry sent from Iran to Hezbollah and pro-Iranian militias operating in Syria (al-Jazeera, October 24). Pre-dawn on October 27, the Syrian Army reported on yet another attack by Israel of several positions in the area of Damascus. Pro-opposition Syrian outlets reported that four explosions sounded in the Seyyeda Zainab town south of Damascus, one day after an IRGC cargo plane landed at the Damascus International Airport (Orient Net, October 27).
On October 23, Iranian Foreign Minister, Amir Abdollahian, spoke on the phone with his Syrian counterpart, Faysal Mekdad, and discussed bilateral, regional and international matters. During the call, Abdollahian stressed Iran’s unyielding support for Palestine, the “Resistance Front,” and Syria, and the need to expand relations between the two countries, particularly in the spheres of the economy and trade (Tasnim, October 23).
On August 28, the Iranian Ambassador to Damascus, Mehdi Sobhani, met with the Syrian Foreign Minister, Faysal Mekdad. In the meeting, Mekdad condemned the terrorist attack that was carried out on October 27 in the Shah Cheragh Mosque in the city of Shiraz (ISNA, October 28).
The Head of the Iranian Pilgrimage Organization, Sadegh Hosseini, met in Damascus with the Syrian Minister of Transportation, Zuhair Khazim, and discussed ways to facilitate the travel of Iranian pilgrims to Syria by air. The two officials stressed the need to take steps that will assist the religious tourism sector, and to lower the cost of flights between the two countries, to increase the number of Iranian tourists able to visit the Shia holy sites in Syria (ISNA, October 24). Meanwhile, in late October, Iranian pilgrims began arriving from Mashhad to visit the holy Shia sites around Damascus. The flights from Mashhad resumed after a four-month break, following agreements reached between the Iranian and Syrian regimes to ensure the safety and health of the Iranian pilgrims (Fars, October 29).
In late October, the Iranian Ambassador to Syria, Mehdi Sobhani, met with representatives of Iranian companies, which took part in the international industrial fair Big4Show in Damascus, and discussed ways to bolster economic cooperation and trade between Iran and Syria. 11 Iranian companies from various sectors participated in the fair (ISNA, October 30).
Iranian Involvement in Iraq
Iran welcomed the formation of a new government in Iraq headed by Mohammed Shaya’a al-Sudani, which was confirmed by parliament on October 27. In a tweet on his Twitter account, the Iranian Ambassador to Baghdad, Mohammad Kazem Al-e Sadegh, congratulated al-Sudani for his election, and for the end of the political deadlock in Iraq that lasted over a year, and wished success to the new government in the service of all sects that make up the Iraqi people. The Iranian ambassador remarked that Iran supported and continues to support Iraq’s democratic path, and is reaching out its hand, hoping to bolster ties with the new government. On October 28, Al-e Sadegh met with the premier-elect and discussed ways to deepen ties between the two countries in various spheres, and well as cooperation between them in the regional and international scenes (ISNA, October 28).
The President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, also congratulated the Iraqi prime minister for his election. In a letter congratulating al-Sudani, Raisi stressed Iran’s ongoing support for Iraq, and expressed hope for deepening ties and cooperation between the two nations (Fars, October 28).
The Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister for General Diplomacy, Mehdi Safari, visited the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq and met with the leadership of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), chief among them Masrour Barzani, the KRG’s Prime Minister. In the meeting, the two sides discussed relations between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan, and particularly bolstering of trade between them. The meeting was also attended by the Iranian Consul General to Erbil, Nasrollah Rashnoudi, and the Iranian Deputy Minister of Economy, Ali Fekri. During the visit, the General Joint Committee of Iran and the KRG met and discussed expanding trade, economic and industrial ties between the two sides (ISNA, October 22). The visit of the Iranian delegation was held against the backdrop of growing tensions between Iran and the KRG due to several Iranian strikes on targets connected to the Kurdish-Iranian armed opposition based in northern Iraq.
Iranian Involvement in the Palestinian Arena
The Secretary General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Ziad al-Nakhleh, addressed in an interview to al-Jazeera TV (October 23) Iran’s support for the Palestinian. He proclaimed that Iran is the ally of PIJ and the Palestinian people, because it adopts a clear stance in favor of Palestinian resistance, and against Israel. He pointed out that this support comes at a time when many Arab regimes are becoming closer to Israel and adopt a pro-American policy. He added, however, that the Iranian assistance to PIJ is insufficient for the needs of the organization at the current stage, and that Hamas received the majority of the financial and armed assistance Iran sent to the Gaza Strip in recent years. The secretary general of the PIJ added that the claim that Iran is the one running events on the ground and the wars between Gaza against Israel is exaggerated. In response to the question whether his organization will retaliate if Israel strikes Iran, Nakhleh stated that this depends on the circumstances, and he does not want to express his views ahead of time about military issues of such magnitude.