Few days after Fox News reported about extensive construction of a new military base near the Syrian border crossing at Albukamal-Al-Qaim, the site suffered an airstrike that destroyed some of the site’s protected structures, allegedly providing forward storage for Iranian ballistic missiles. The new site, like others, that recently struck in Iraq and Syria, was manned by the Iranian sponsored Popular Mobilization Force (PMF).

An intelligence report backed by satellite images released by Imagesat International indicates extensive damage at the base, located five kilometers to the official border crossing of Albukamal-Al-Qaim, on the Syrian-Iraqi border. The satellite images were taken on the morning following the attack, show damages in two storage areas. Some of the structures have been completed, others were under construction. Some of the targets indicate marks of residual fires caused by ordnance or ammunition.

According to Fox News, the facility would be used to house thousands of troops. The classified Iranian project, called the Imam Ali compound, was approved by the top leadership in Tehran and is being completed by the Iranian al-Quds Forces. Using a civilian satellite company, Fox News verified the information and obtained images that show a base being constructed on the Syria-Iraq border.

If indeed it is an Iranian base, it is probable that the strike is part of the struggle with Tehran to prevent the establishment of a land corridor from Iran to its allies in Syria and Lebanon.

Some of the recent attacks attributed to Israel, along the Iranian ‘land bridge’ from Iran to Lebanon. Map: ISI

Fox quoted analysts at Image Sat International (ISI) who reviewed the images say that precision-guided missiles could be housed at five different newly constructed buildings that are surrounded by large dirt mounds. Other facilities, located in the northwest part of the base, have less external protection. The analysts said that construction could be completed over the next few months and the base would be operational shortly after.

On the night of September 8-9, an air attack was directed at the base, destroying some of the heavily protected storage facilities likely prepared for the missiles. Local observers reported several people were killed in that attack. Since mid-July, five arms depots and training camps belonging to the Popular Mobilization Forces have been targeted in apparent attacks. The PMF has blamed both Israel and the US for the recent string of blasts and drone sightings at its bases but Israel and the US have not responded to these allegations.

A satellite image showing the general area of Abulkamal al Qiam, both new (not yet operational) Syrian facility and nearby Iranian installation, also under construction. Photo: ISI
The second target group at Abulkamal al Qiam, struck on the night of 8-9 September. Photo: ISI