According to several reports, Iran has scored a major military victory in the last few days by taking control of villages on the Iraq-Syrian border in Deir az-Zour, and thus able to claim that they have control of an entire route, or land bridge, connecting Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea. The villages had been controlled by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and they were recaptured by Syrian army forces in conjunction with the military operations to expel ISIS from Raqqa. As we reported two weeks ago, the US and Iran were headed for a military confrontation in Deir az-Zour, as they competed to take control of the region in eastern Syria freed up by the expulsion of ISIS. But apparently the achievement caught the west by surprise. The Iraqi army's Iran-trained Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) raced from Mosul in Iraq to the Syrian border just as Syrian army divisions reached the same border crossing earlier this month, according to a pre-arranged plan between Iran and the Syrian regime. This gave Iran control of the border crossing before coalition forces could react. Al Monitor and Al Araby (9-June)
# Iran's land route from Tehran to Mediterranean Sea, through Baghdad and Damascus...
This so-called land bridge is a lengthy, meandering 1,100 land route through Iraq and Syria, as can be seen from the map above, and there is a lot of skepticism that Iran controls the entire route in any certain sense. So far as is known, no attempt has yet been made to make use of the land route. Furthermore, even if Iran does control the entire route, any convoys would be vulnerable to US or Israeli airstrikes.
However, if the land bridge claim turns out to be true, it would be significant strategic victory for Iran, because it would permit Iran to supply its allies in Lebanon and Syria with weapons and rockets.
In light of this strategy, Iran's launch of seven missiles into ISIS targets in Deir az-Zour, that we reported yesterday, can be seen as having the two purposes: First to support the capture of ISIS territory needed for the land bridge, and second to warn Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel not to interfere, as the next missiles could be launched in their direction.
This is not the end of the story. Americans, Russians, regime Syrians, free Syrians, Kurds, Hezbollah and Iranians have all been united in fight against ISIS in Raqqa and Mosul.... New Yorker and News Deeply (8-June)