Washington, Aug. 21 – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered the elite Quds Force unit to intensify its campaign of terror attacks against the West to undermine their support for the overthrow of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Iran has emerged as one of the most important backers of the Assad regime which has brutally killed many thousands of its own citizens in its increasingly desperate struggle to survive. Iran regards Assad as an important strategic ally in the region.
The Quds Force is believed to have been behind a series of recent terror attacks against Western targets, including a failed assassination attempt against the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington and three bomb attacks against Israeli diplomats in February.
Meanwhile, tensions continue to rise over Iran’s illegal nuclear weapons program. The International Atomic Energy Agency said it would meet Iranian officials on Friday in Vienna to press its demands to inspect a military complex near Tehran where it believes explosives tests relevant to the development of nuclear weapons have been going on.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog is due to issue its latest quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program next month. It is expected to show Tehran pressing ahead with its uranium enrichment program aimed at developing a nuclear bomb.
In another development, Iran unveiled upgrades to six weapons on Tuesday, including a more accurate short-range missile, a more powerful naval engine and an airborne testing laboratory, Iranian media reported.
The new weaponry was unveiled at a ceremony marking Defense Industry Day and was attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Among the upgrades was a fourth-generation of the Fateh-110 missile, with a range of about 186 miles (300 km).
Iran said last month it had successfully test-fired medium-range missiles capable of hitting Israel and tested dozens of missiles aimed at simulated air bases.
Iran also announced construction of a new, state-of-the-art, anti-aircraft missile base, located near the city of Abadeh, in southern Iran. It will cost $300 million, be home to 6,000 personnel and host seven battalions, Iran’s Fars news agency reported Tuesday.