Iran training Middle East fighters to fly drones: Israel

Defence Minister Benny Gantz says Tehran is using an airbase to train ‘operatives from Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon’ to fly UAVs.

A drone is launched during a combat exercise in Semnan, Iran, on January 6 [West Asia News Agency via Reuters]

Iran is providing foreign fighters with drone training at an airbase near the city of Isfahan, Israel’s defence minister alleged a month after Tehran came under global scrutiny over a suspected drone attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off Oman.

In what his office described as a new disclosure, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Sunday that Iran was using Kashan airbase north of Isfahan to train “terror operatives from Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon in flying Iranian-made UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]”.

Tehran was also trying to “transfer know-how that would allow the manufacturing of UAVs in the Gaza Strip”, on Israel’s southern border, Gantz told a conference at Reichman University near Tel Aviv.

His office provided what it said were satellite images showing UAVs on the runways at Kashan. There was no immediate comment from Iran.

Israel has combined military attacks with diplomatic pressure to beat back what it describes as an effort by its arch foe, whose nuclear negotiations with the West are deadlocked, to beef up regional clout through allied fighters.

A blast on July 29 on board the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum product tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime, near the mouth of the Gulf, a key oil shipping route, killed two crew – a Briton and a Romanian.

The US military said explosives experts from the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier – which deployed to assist the Mercer Street – concluded the explosion was from a drone produced in Iran, which was accused by other world powers of the attack.

Iran has denied involvement.

Source: News Agencies