Al-Bukamal border crossing reopens between Syria and Iraq

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Satellite images taken by ImageSat International show truck convoy passing through crossing.
By Anna Ahronheim- www.jpost.com

Five years after the al-Bukamal border crossing between Iraq and Syria was seized by the Islamic State group, it has opened and is active, raising concerns that it could be hub for Iran to expedite the transfer of weapons to groups like Hezbollah.

Satellite images released by ImageSat International (ISI) on Monday showed a convoy of trucks passing through the crossing from the Iraqi town of Al Qaim into Syria’s Al Bukamal, the only crossing between the two countries controlled by government forces after Iraqi security forces retook the border post near the town of Al Qaim in late 2017.

Situatiated in Iraq’s restive Anbar province on one side and Syria’ Deir Ezzor province, al-Qaim is an area which is under the control of pro-Iranian Shiite militias who are handled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds force.

ISI first released images of work on the new border crossing in May, with a site likely to be used as a storage compound for vehicles, equipment and possibly weapons. A neighboring structure was said to have been built at the end of 2018.

In September Fox News reported that Iran was building a classified military base near Al-Bukamal, less than 200 miles from an American position with the intention to house thousands of troops.

According to the report, the classified Iranian project is called the Imam Ali compound and is being completed by the IRGC. At least five different newly constructed buildings surrounded by large dirt mounds could house precision missiles, Fox said. The other 10 less fortified storehouses in the base will likely hold ammunition.

“The construction of the new military compound began in recent months and is in advanced stages of construction,” read a report by ISI which reviewed the images. “It is probably that the base construction will be completed over the next few months and will be operational shortly afterwards.”

Iran has for years been trying to establish a 1,200 km. length land bridge from Tehran to the Mediterranean, a major concern for Israel which since 2013 has been carrying out a “war-between-wars” campaign aimed at preventing Iran from reaching its goal.

A top defense official has said that stopping Hezbollah’s precision missile program is the State of Israel’s top priority, just after working to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability, followed by preventing Iranian entrenchment in various Middle Eastern countries.

Both Israel and the US have warned that Iran and their proxy militias are a major threat to stability in the region and hope to weaken Iran’s growing influence across the Middle East and Persian Gulf.

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