A South Korean-flagged tanker in the Gulf was “escorted” to port by Iranian forces last year.
News of the unit comes as diplomatic efforts continue to persuade Iran to curb its nuclear program. Iran’s elite Kuds Force is already a well-established branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps tasked with conducting extraterritorial operations in support of Iran’s proxy wars in the Middle East. However, their reach was drastically curtailed by the assassination of their famous leader, General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in January 2020 in Iraq by a US drone strike.
Now, information gathered by the National Council of Resistance of Iran opposition group shows that Tehran has been constantly trying to make up for this loss of capability for its operations in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and several African countries.
Efforts to use foreign mercenaries in Yemen have intensified since the election of the so-called “butcher of Tehran” Ebraham Raisi as Iran’s president, alongside an increase in UAV and missile attacks.,
The new Quds naval force is based at the Khamenei Academy of Naval Science and Technology in Ziba Kenar on the Caspian coast, overseen by Second Admiral Abdolreza Dabestani
But it is Brigadier General Hassan Ali Zamani Pajooh who oversees the unit’s primary objective — providing commando training for foreign mercenaries, conducted in extensive six-month classroom courses.
This commando training is complemented by additional maritime courses in the Qeshm and Farah Islands in the Gulf – offered by the same IRGC Aba Abdullah Naval Commando Brigade responsible for attacks on British oil tankers.
Kassem Soleimani was killed in a drone strike
In January 2020, more than 200 Yemeni mercenaries were trained in commando tactics, naval science and technology.
According to the report, a similarly sized contingent of Iraqis began their training in July of the same year.
After completing their training, the Iraqis were sent to the al-Faw Peninsula and Basra to form a “naval force” under the command of the Quds Force.
And evidence shows that the mission of Quds’ new naval forces goes beyond mere training.
Using asymmetric warfare tactics developed by the IRGC, the unit has set up new smuggling networks that are already supplying arms and equipment “to extend conflicts to the Arabian Sea, Bab al-Mandab and the Red Sea”.
This has already equipped the Houthi rebels in Yemen with speedboats, missiles, mines and other weapons, the report said.
Khamenei Navy Academy Command School
One of the methods of transferring arms to Yemen is using third countries such as Somalia. Others include the use of small boats and the use of drug smuggling methods such as oversized, two-meter-long fenders hiding weapons caches.
The fenders are then anchored underwater at designated locations and tagged with GPS trackers so they can be recovered by other vessels.
Some of these weapons will be intercepted.
Last December, the US Department of Justice announced the successful seizure of two major stockpiles of Iranian weapons, including 171 surface-to-air missiles and eight anti-tank missiles, destined for Houthi fighters in Yemen. 1,400 AK-47 assault rifles and 226,600 rounds of ammunition were also confiscated.
This and other Sierras of thousands of rocket launchers, machine guns and sniper rifles are all believed to have come from the Iranian port city of Jask.
Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman for the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran, said last night: “Since Raisi became president, missile and drone attacks have accelerated along with efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, and the regime has stopped the maritime terror attacks by foreign mercenaries intensified .
“The Quds naval force, which trains and equips Iranian proxies, is a real threat to both regional stability and international shipping.
“But instead of holding the Iranian regime accountable for its actions, Western countries have made concessions to it, a trend that has emboldened Tehran’s shameful behavior in the region.
“Regardless of what Supreme Leader Khamenei might do with the negotiations on his nuclear program, Tehran must be held accountable for its proxy war in the region, its terrorism, its development of ballistic missiles and its egregious human rights abuses.”