This week, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Corps (IRGC) promoted more Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) strikes, allegedly on Islamic State positions in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border. The footage corresponded with the feed of an Iranian Shahed-129 UAV. The video widely circulated in Iranian media had Arabic captioning, which likely indicated it was meant to reach a wider audience beyond Iran.
Last month, the also IRGC released footage of UAV strikes in the Iraq-Syria border area. The IRGC said those strikes were operations to avenge the Islamic State’s beheading of an Iranian soldier in the border area earlier that month. The IRGC mainly geared the messages toward a domestic audience, as well as its bases of support abroad. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: The IRGC touts drone strikes against the Islamic State].
The IRGC is currently leading an offensive in eastern Syria to capture territory near the Iraq and Syria border, which is a component of strategies to assist the Syrian government gain territory, as well as to consolidate a continuous land corridor from Iran to the Mediterranean. Earlier, Iran used land routes to supply Damascus until Syrian insurgents shut down virtually the majority of crossings by mid-2012. Afterwards, Iran fully switched to aerial supply, as covered by Will Fulton, Joseph Holliday and Sam Wyer in AEI‘s Iranian Strategy in Syria.
The IRGC’s publicizing of its UAV strikes reflects a more active propaganda campaign to shape the media narrative in the region. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: Hezbollah publicizes commander’s role in defending Deir Ezzor city]
Amir Toumaj is a Research Analyst at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.