by WorldTribune Staff, March 12, 2017
Iran is using civilian flights to secretly send soldiers and ammunition to war zones in Syria and Yemen, an Iranian military official said.
The Iranian troops ride in the rear of the planes and exit via a rear door “separate from the regular passengers,” an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) official told the anti-government “Amed News” website.
Teheran is also using the civilian flights to transfer wounded and dead soldiers, the official said.
According to the reports, which were translated and published by the MEMRI institute which tracks media outlets in the Middle East, the flights by Iran’s Mahan Air to Damascus in Syria and Sana’a in Yemen are being used to ship large quantities of ammunition in the cargo holds of the civilian planes which are then sent to battle zones.
The IRG official said that “last year, one of these airliners transported regular passengers [as well as] military forces and ammo from Iran to Syria, and on its way back to Iran, it brought dead and injured Iranians, Syrians, Afghanis, and Pakistanis for treatment or burial in Iran.”
The official added: “On the return trip from Syria, these airliners carry people in Zone C, which is in the rear of the plane and the regular passengers cannot see it. They disembark via the rear door and occupy a separate part [of the plane] from the regular passengers. These are the same people Iran trains in armed combat and guerrilla warfare at IRGC bases. In fact, the IRGC commanders use the regular passengers on Mahan Air flights as a cover to transfer weapons, ammo, and [fighters] trained [to wage] guerrilla warfare in the region.”
In May 2015, the IRGC official said one of the airliners, whose cargo hold contained a large cache of weapons and ammo, attempted to land at Sana’a but was threatened by two Saudi bombers, and that due to the bombing of the Sana’a airport, it was unable to unload the military cargo in question.
Iran claimed the airliner was loaded with aid including food and drugs, but the IRGC source said it was actually transporting weapons for the Houthi rebels.