Iran News Round Up
The Iran News Round Up ran from February 2009-September 2018. Visit the Iran File for the latest analysis.
A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Marie Donovan, Paul Bucala, and Caitlin Shayda Pendleton with contributors Ken Hawrey and Alice Naghshineh. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
(E) = Article in English
Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.
Key takeaway: The Artesh Ground Forces Commander announced that the Artesh is conducting advisory missions in Syria, underscoring the depth of Iranian assistance to the Assad regime amidst reports of Iranian troop withdrawal from the country.
Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan announced that the Artesh is “actively confronting the enemy outside our borders and is also performing an advisory mission in Syria.” His comments appear to be the first time an Iranian official has publicly confirmed that the Artesh has an advisory presence in Syria. The Artesh’s role is typically limited to operations defending Iran’s borders.
Iranian news outlets reported that six members of the Zainabiyoun Brigade were buried in Qom on March 2.
Matthew McInnis discusses Iranian perspectives on the possible deployment of Saudi Arabian and Emirati special operations forces to Syria in his latest blog post, “Iran isn’t sweating Saudi intervention in Syria.”
Military and Security
Artesh Ground Forces Commander: The Artesh is conducting training missions in Syria. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan announced during a press conference that the Artesh “is actively confronting the enemy outside our borders and is also performing an advisory mission in Syria.”
- On the creation of a quick reaction force: Pourdastan claimed that the Artesh has created a “quick reaction force” in order to combat “any type of threat posed by enemies, especially takfiri groups.” Pourdastan’s comment follows the IRGC Ground Forces’ announcement of the formation of an air assault unit.
- On Artesh drone capabilities: Pourdastan stated that Artesh’s drones “have advanced well and have the capability to conduct operations a few thousand kilometers from our borders.” On February 4, Iranian state TV ran a segment on the capabilities of Iran’s Shahed 129 UAV drones. Part of the segment included feeds presumably taken from the UAV’s weapon system targeting vehicles and personnel in Syria. The coordinates featured on the imagery geolocate to Aleppo province.
- On Iran’s armored force: He stated, “The Artesh’s Karrar tank will soon be unveiled in the presence of Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan.” Little information has been provided about the Karrar tank, but Dehghan claimed that it was a battle tank comparable to the Russian T-90 tanks.
- Pourdastan also stated that “preparations are underway” for the purchase of T-90 battle tanks from Russia and added that “T-90s will soon be added to the equipment of the ground forces.” Iranian defense officials had previously stated that Iran was no longer interested in buying T-90s and would instead focus on developing and producing Karrar tanks, although subsequent Russian commentary suggested that the dispute might be resolved. (Fars News Agency) (IRNA) (Mehr News)
Former IRGC Commander praises Iranian fighters. Former IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezaei delivered a speech in Gilan province in northern Iran on March 3. He made a likely reference to Iranian fighters in Syria, stating, “Today the warriors of Gilan fight two thousand kilometers away from their homeland in defense of Islam.” Rezaei also referred to Saudi Arabia’s military involvement in Yemen and claimed, “Many of Saudi Arabia’s statesmen are of the belief that King Salman has erred. Some are saying that they should have a ground war in Yemen, but the people of Iran are living with a peaceful mind in this turbulent ocean.” He added:
- “We must not permit regional insecurity to benefit America, Saudi Arabia, or Turkey. The disintegration of Iraq, Syria, and Yemen must be prevented. If this fire is not put out, that insecurity will enter Iran.”
- “Today we live in a region in which there are four great wars ongoing: in Syria, Iraq, Russia with Turkey, and Russia with Europe in Ukraine… It is possible that in the next few months, regional countries will be caught up in a war, and these events will lay the groundwork for a third world war.” (Fars News Agency)
- Jafari: “Main danger” to the Islamic Revolution is its domestic opposition. IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari stated that while “there are enemies outside of Iran’s borders who have sworn to fight and oppose the revolution, the main danger threatening our revolution are those inside the country who act against the revolution.” (Mashregh News)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Deputy foreign minister criticizes GCC move to label Hezbollah a terrorist group. Hossein Amir Abdollahian criticized the Gulf Cooperation Council’s decision to label Lebanese Hezbollah a terrorist group as “a new mistake” and stated, “Those who label Hezbollah a terrorist group are intentionally or unintentionally targeting Lebanon’s unity and security.” (ISNA)
Jafari: IRGC can help the Rouhani administration implement the Resistance Economy. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari stated that “if the government intends to pursue and implement economic activities based on the Resistance Economy, the IRGC and the Basij’s ability certainly would be of great help to it.” The IRGC Commander continued:
- “The IRGC does not enter into any economic activity independently… In the economic arena, the IRGC cannot carry out effective action independently. If the government asks us and wants to do economic activities, surely we can help.”
- “We have always separated the construction discussion from our economic activities. Evidence has been shown that in the construction discussion, the IRGC and the Basij have enacted many developments” in Iran. (Tasnim News Agency)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
- Six Zainabiyoun Brigade members killed in Syria. Iranian news outlets reported that six members of the Zainabiyoun Brigade were buried in Qom on March 2. No names were released. The Zainabiyoun Brigade is part of the Iranian-backed Shia paramilitary forces that fight in support of the Assad regime. (Farda News)