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Military intelligence: Iran, Hezbollah train Russian drone operators in Syria

by Martin Fornusek February 12, 2024 10:05 AM 2 min read
Illustrative purposes only: Russian soldiers walk past a Russian military police armoured vehicle at a position in the northeastern Syrian city Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, along the border with Turkey in the north of Aleppo governorate on Oct. 23, 2019. (AFP via Getty Images)
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Iran and Hezbollah are training Russian drone operators in Syria for deployment in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military intelligence agency (HUR) said on Feb. 12.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Tehran-backed militant group based in Lebanon are reportedly carrying out the instruction at the Shayrat Airbase.

Russia, Iran, and Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria have been cooperating extensively on both military and political levels, presenting a challenge to both Ukraine and the West.

The training course includes mastering systems like Shahed-136 "kamikaze" drones or Ababil-3 drones, the intelligence agency said.

Russia has been extensively importing Iranian Shahed drones and making domestic copies for attacks against Ukrainian cities and infrastructure.

Ababil drones, another unmanned system developed by Iran, can be used for both reconnaissance and combat purposes.

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According to the intelligence agency, the instruction is headed by a Hezbollah commander, Kamal Abu Sadiq, who specializes in the manufacture and maintenance of drones.

The training is allegedly provided not only to Russian personnel but also to Syrian mercenaries whom Moscow supposedly plans to deploy in Ukraine as drone operators.

Russia has reportedly deployed mercenaries from numerous countries in its war against Ukraine, including from Syria.

Al-Assad has been Russia's close ally since the Syrian Civil War, and Damascus was one of the only two governments to recognize Russia's attempt to illegally annex four partially occupied Ukrainian oblasts in 2022.

Both Moscow and Damascus also maintain close ties with Tehran, which not only supplies arms to Russia but also backs militant groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. This led to a number of clashes recently between Iranian-supported militants and Western powers.

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