The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is training Iraqi fighters from Kata’ib Hezbollah and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba on man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADs) in the southern countryside of Syria’s Raqqa, the Eye of Euphrates reported on April 28.
According to the Syrian pro-opposition news blog, the training course is being held in the outskirts of the town of al-Resafa.
At least 25 Iraqi fighters are taking part in the course. The fighters are being trained five days a week on the use of MANPADs against drones, helicopters and fighter jets. A live-fire exercise will allegedly be held in the end of the training course.
“The training is supervised by two Iraqi commanders of the IRGC called Osman Abu al-Zayd and Mohab Ezzedine,” the Eye of Euphrates said in its report.
The blog said that this was the second such training course to be held by the IRGC in the southern countryside of Raqqa in less than a year. The previous course was allegedly held in mid-November 2021.
Over the past year, Iranian-backed forces expanded their presence in the southern countryside of Raqqa. The move was likely a response to an escalation in ISIS activities in the area, as well as a result of repeated Israeli and US strikes on the positions of Iranian-backed forces in nearby Deir Ezzor.
The Eye of Euphrates report may be propaganda. However, it is also possible that the IRGC is working to equip its allies in Iraq and Syria with MANPADs to defend against Israeli and US warplanes.