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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Syria, Iran and Russia provided Hezbollah with intelligence information

Beirut (AsiaNews) – In the recent conflict with Israel, Hezbollah directly benefited from intelligence data provided by Syria, collected by listening posts jointly operated by Russia and Syria. Hezbollah also received intelligence from other listening posts jointly operated by Syria and Iran on the Golan Heights, the defence journal Jane's reported. For the London-based military and strategic affairs periodical, Syria played a key role in gathering intelligence and transfer it to Hezbollah based on agreements Damascus signed with Moscow and Tehran.

Russia also operated indirectly in favour of Hezbollah through the many anti-tank rockets it sent to Syria and transferred to Hezbollah. Moreover, Russia not only got out arms sales but also first-hand intelligence data collected by the listening posts it manages with the Syrians.

If Syrian-Russian intelligence cooperation goes back a few years, that with Iran is more recent and is part of broader strategic cooperation agreements signed in November of last year and confirmed during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent visit to Damascus earlier this year.

Electronic surveillance is at the heart of Syria’s intelligence cooperation agreements and involves building four listening stations whose funding, estimated in the dozens of million dollars, came mostly from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s budget.

Two of the four stations went operational before fighting broke out in Lebanon on July 12—one in Baab al-Hawa, close to the Syrian-Turkish border, and the other, on the Golan Heights. The two other stations are scheduled to start operating by January 2007 at the latest.

Because of the international community’ opposition to its nuclear enrichment programme, Iran is concerned by potential threats to its territory. For this reason, its intelligence community is quite keen to find out what is happening in the Mideast and the Mediterranean region. But Iran has also insisted that in the listening posts jointly manned with Syria no Russian intelligence officers be allowed despite the long cooperation between Damascus and Moscow.

Russia is also helping Syria enlarge two of its ports on the Mediterranean, those of Latakia and Tartous.
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