Iranian and Syrian authorities are in talks on the lease of part of the Arab country's state-owned commercial port in Latakia province starting October 1, the Jerusalem Post has reported, citing an earlier report in The Sunday Times.
Asia Times, meanwhile, has suggested that the lease is already a done deal, with Tehran said to have gained the right to use the port and some of its 23 warehouses, with an annual capacity of eight million plus metric tonnes of cargo per year (pre-war estimate), for economic purposes, with the news portal claiming these facilities can also be converted for military use.
JP warned that if Iran were to get a "foothold" in Latakia and "direct access to the Mediterranean Sea," this might mean "new Israeli airstrikes" against Syria.
Iran has provided considerable support for Syria in recent years, with Iranian military advisors and technical and arms assistance provided on Damascus' request to help the country in its fight against Islamist terrorism. Tel Aviv, meanwhile, has accused Tehran of using Syria as a proxy for possible military operations against Israel. Iran has denied the claims.
The Russian military established a base at the Hmeymim Air Base southeast of Latakia city in 2015 to assist Syria in its fight against terrorists including Daesh (ISIS)* and al-Nusra.*
*Terrorist groups outlawed in Russia and many other countries.