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Weapons Smuggling from Iran to Lebanon and Pakistan Solider Killed and 2 IRGC Aerospace Force Killed

June 9-15, 2022 | Issue 11 - CENTCOM

Giorgio Tiberio, Elizabeth Leoce, Sofia Pantoula, CENTCOM Team

Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff

Damascus International Airport, Syria[1]

Date: June 10, 2022

Location: Damascus International Airport, Syria

Parties involved: Syrian government; Israel; Iran; Iran-aligned militias; Lebanon; Hezbollah; Iraq

The event: Israel attempted to thwart weapons smuggling from Iran to Lebanon through Syria by launching a missile attack against Damascus International Airport. Israel blames Iran for smuggling weapons and missile-improving systems on Iranian cargo airlines via Syria. These weapons intend to reach Hezbollah in Lebanon.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • It is likely that Israel temporarily set back Iran’s weapon smuggling. Iran will likely try to find other routes to deliver its arsenal to Lebanon. Iran will likely use alternative areas and routes with areas and routes controlled by the Syrian government to continue their smuggling, such as Aleppo International Airport. Iran will likely arrange for weapons to be transported by land, likely coordinating with Iran-aligned militias in Iraq and Syria to allow weapon smuggling to continue.

  • Even though Hezbollah will likely respond with threats against Israel, it is unlikely that it will launch a missile strike while its weapons supply is compromised. To compensate for the loss of equipment, Hezbollah will almost certainly attempt to acquire weaponry from other regional allies, such as the Syrian government. There is a roughly even chance that the Syrian government will transfer arms to Hezbollah as a response to the heavy damage caused to the Damascus International Airport by Israel.

Date: June 12, 2022

Location: Datta Khel, North Waziristan District, Pakistan

Parties involved: Pakistani military; Pakistani soldiers; Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP); Baloch Liberation Army (BLA); Afghanistan; Afghan Taliban; Afghan Taliban-controlled government

The event: The Pakistani military said a Pakistani soldier was killed after an exchange of fire with militants in Datta Khel, near the Afghan border. At the time of the report, there is no claim of responsibility.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Retaliatory attacks from Pakistan’s military will likely occur, but it is unlikely that using lethal force against militants will deter future attacks. Violence will likely motivate joint attacks by militant groups, such as TTP or BLA. Attacks will likely continue, as they will almost certainly plan future strikes from their safe havens in Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban will very likely refrain from suppressing TTP and BLA, likely to prevent both groups from mounting attacks in Afghanistan.

  • Ceasefires and negotiations are likely to occur, likely to put pressure on the Afghan Taliban in eliminating militants along the border. Failure by the Afghan Taliban to take action to eliminate militants along the border will almost certainly draw accusations from Pakistan of complicity with terrorist groups. Such accusations will very likely delay international recognition of the Afghan Taliban-controlled government.

Date: June 12, 2022

Location: Iran

Parties involved: Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC); IRGC Aerospace Force; IRGC aerospace engineers Ali Kamani and Mohammad Abdous; Lebanon; Hezbollah; Syria

The event: Two members of the IRGC Aerospace Force, which runs Iran’s ballistic missile program, died in separate accidents. According to Iran International, they have been identified as Ali Kamani and Mohammad Abdous, who developed arms for Hezbollah. The specific circumstances of their deaths are still unknown, and Iran has labeled the two individuals as martyrs.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The official labeling of the men as martyrs very likely indicates that they were murdered, even though the perpetrators are still unknown. Due to their positions, the deaths are likely caused by an external attempt to delay the development of missiles, likely to prevent Iran from delivering warheads on long-range missiles. The IRGC will very likely update its operational security protocols with new restrictions, to protect its ballistic missile program and workers. This will very likely lead to a crackdown on information leaks, likely explaining the lack of public details on the deaths.

  • There is a roughly even chance that their deaths will hinder the supply of missiles to Hezbollah, as the replacement of highly-skilled aerospace engineers is almost certainly a lengthy process. There is a roughly even chance that Hezbollah’s operational capability will decrease in the short term, likely preventing the group from carrying out large-scale operations in Lebanon and Syria. This will likely force Hezbollah to rely on its smaller factories in Lebanon to maintain its arsenal, likely leading to a decrease in the quantity and quality of its weapons.

________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[2] Shuttering Damascus airport, Israel ramps up its efforts to foil Iran arms transfers, The Times of Israel, June 2022,

[3] Pakistan military: Soldier killed in shootout with militants, Associated Press, June 2022,



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