Israel launches unusually intense strikes on Iranian positions in Syria

A monitoring group known as Deir al-Zour 24 that has an in depth community in the japanese Syrian province, stated the raids focused a minimum of 4 positions of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated terrorist organization by the United States.

Al-Mayadeen, a pro-Assad Lebanese channel that has intensive discipline entry in Syria, stated that “the Israeli aggression targeted positions that had been emptied before the bombardment.” The channel stated that solely materials injury was sustained — a standard line by the Syrian authorities after Israeli assaults — and revealed grainy pictures of twisted metallic, fallen concrete facades and troopers digging into the rubble.

The channel additionally stated warehouses in western Deir al-Zour had been hit, in addition to different positions inside town and in different places, together with the border crossing. Omar Abu Layla, head of the monitoring group Deir al-Zour 24, stated the warehouses are a few of the largest that Iranian navy items have in Syria.

The bombardment lasted for 35 minutes, based on al-Mayadeen, and was one of many largest-scale assaults on Syria in years. The Israel Defense Forces stated it doesn’t remark on stories in international media.

Abu Layla stated the assault killed not more than 40 members of native and international forces loyal to Assad. In a cellphone name with The Washington Post, he stated Iranian items had introduced a cargo of missiles into Syria to be saved on the warehouses in the previous three weeks.

“This means the Israelis have been monitoring the movement heavily, and the reason behind the massive attack was to target these missiles,” he stated, talking from Germany the place is he based mostly.

“We have not noted any huge attacks like the one last night in two years,” he stated, including that that is the biggest Israeli assault on Iranian positions in Syria in the previous decade. The assault largely focused two cities and the 53-mile stretch of desert between them, managed by Iranian forces. Abu Layla famous that the fierceness of the assault got here on the tail finish of the Trump administration, a time when Israel may be extra emboldened to assault such targets. 

Israeli warplanes have been flying low over Lebanon virtually every day for 3 weeks, often venturing into Syria for an assault. The thundering sound and buzzing of drones have particularly unnerved residents of Lebanon’s capital Beirut, which suffered a blast in August that killed 200 individuals and destroyed a lot of town’s middle.

Israel has stepped up its assaults on Syria just lately. In 2020, it performed 50 strikes in Syria, based on the IDF’s statistics. Last month, the IDF chief of workers, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, stated, “The Iranian entrenchment in Syria is in a clear showdown as a result of IDF activity, but we still have a long way to go to complete our goals in this arena.”

The stepped-up Israeli assaults in Syria come as forces in the area are on alert throughout the last chaotic days of the Trump administration.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reportedly pressed Trump, who has strongly supported Israel’s marketing campaign to place strain on Tehran’s nuclear program, to ship a last navy blow to this system earlier than turning Iran coverage over to President-elect Joe Biden. That prospect was dampened by reported objections of Pentagon officers.

But the mounting upheaval in Washington, with an embattled Trump going through the possible prospect of a second impeachment, has heightened the sense the unpredictability. The IDF has been on excessive alert in current days and has deployed a battery of its Iron Dome air protection missiles to the Red Sea metropolis of Eilat to guard in opposition to potential strikes from Iranian-backed forces in Yemen, based on a report in the every day Haaretz newspaper.

Defense analysts imagine that Israel could also be profiting from the uncertainty of Trump’s last days in addition to the failure, to date, of Iran to reply to current provocations. Israel is extensively believed to have been behind the killing of a high Iranian nuclear scientist in November. And Jan. 3 was the primary anniversary of the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s elite expeditionary Quds Force. So far, none of Iran’s promised revenge assaults have materialized.

“Israel seems to have been exploiting Iran’s comparative weakness in Syria and the waiting game Tehran is playing prior to U.S. President Joe Biden’s inauguration,” protection analyst Amos Harel stated in a Haaretz commentary.

Steve Hendrix in Jerusalem, Shira Rubin in Tel Aviv and Nader Durgham in Beirut contributed to this report.

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