Posts Tagged ‘Russian aerial bombardments’

Israel conducted April 9 strike on Syrian airbase: NYT quotes Israeli military source — The Real Next War in Syria: Iran vs. Israel

April 16, 2018

Reuters

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel maintained its official silence on Monday over its possible involvement in an April 9 air strike on a Syrian airbase after the New York Times quoted an unnamed Israeli military source as saying Israel had carried out the raid.

Syria and its main ally Russia blamed Israel for the attack, near the city of Homs, which followed reports of a poison gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces on the rebel-held town of Douma.

Israel, which has often struck Syrian army locations during its neighbor’s seven-year civil war, has neither confirmed nor denied mounting the raid. But Israeli officials said the Tiyas air base was being used by troops from Iran and that Israel would not accept such a presence in Syria of its arch foe.

Iran’s Tansim news agency said seven Iranian military personnel had been killed in the attack, which contributed to a sharp escalation of tensions between the West and Russia.

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Damage at the T4 base in Syria afer the israeli raid.

“(The Tiyas strike) was the first time we attacked live Iranian targets — both facilities and people,” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman quoted the Israeli military source as saying.

Friedman described the seven Iranians killed as members of the Qods Force, a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps that oversees operations abroad, and one of them as a commander of a drone unit.

Asked about the claim of Israeli responsibility cited in the New York Times article, which was published on Sunday, an Israeli military spokeswoman said: “There is no comment at this time.”

While acknowledging that it has carried out scores of strikes in Syria against suspect Iranian deployments or arms transfers to Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, Israel generally does not comment on specific missions.

The attack on Tiyas came days before the United States, Britain and France launched 105 missiles targeting what Washington said were three chemical weapons facilities in Syria in retaliation for the suspected poison gas attack.

Assad has denied using chemical weapons.

Israeli soldiers taking part in a training session last week in the Golan Heights.CreditJalaa Marey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Despite the Israeli source’s comment to the New York Times that the killing of Iranians at Tiyas was unprecedented for Israeli missions in Syria, a 2015 air strike there that Hezbollah blamed on Israel killed an Iranian general along with several of the Lebanese guerrillas.

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Gareth Jones

See also:

The Real Next War in Syria: Iran vs. Israel

NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/15/opinion/war-syria-iran-israel.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=7&pgtype=sectionfront

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What Did Israel Attack in Syria: Air Force Compound Under Exclusive Iranian Control

April 11, 2018

The base, known as T4, is home to Russian and Syrian contingents; Israel assesses that Tehran’s activity is known to Assad but that he doesn’t halt it despite the risk to his forces

The Syrian airbase near Homs that sustained an airstrike Monday night is where Iran is trying to set up a large air force compound under its exclusive control.

Syria, Iran and Russia all blamed Israel for the strike, which killed at least four advisors from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force. Arab media reports said one was a colonel with a senior position in the Revolutionary Guards’ drone operation in Syria. The Lebanese television station Al-Manar, which is affiliated with Hezbollah, reported seven Iranians killed, and the true number could be even greater.

 Image result for T4 air base, after israel attack, hangar, photos, April 2018

In addition to the Revolutionary Guards, the large base, known as T4, hosts contingents of the Syrian and Russian air forces. The Iranians, who operate independently, are relatively far away from the Russians; they control the base’s western and northern sides. That’s apparently why Russia’s statements specified that the airstrike hit the western side of the base.

TwitterPicture of the targeted Iranian base in Syria, according to Iranian media.
Picture of the targeted Iranian base in Syria, according to Iranian media.Fars News Agency

On February 10, after an Iranian drone was downed inside Israeli territory, the Israeli air force bombed the drone’s command post, located at T4. According to foreign media reports, that strike also killed some Iranians, though that time, Iran itself didn’t announce the deaths.

Both strikes, coupled with a series of international media reports quoting “Western intelligence officials,” reveal that Iran is trying to establish a large-scale drone program in Syria as part of its effort to expand its military presence there.

But alongside Russia’s protests to Israel over the fact that it views both strikes as endangering its personnel, there is also apparently some tension between Russia and Iran. American intelligence sources say that Iran even moved its people from T4 to a Syrian airbase near Palmyra, far away from the area where Russia operates, for several weeks. It’s possible that the Russians threatened to stop arms shipments from Iran to Damascus if Iran didn’t do so.

>> Israel is now directly confronting Iran in Syria | Analysis 

Nevertheless, Iran recently returned to T4 and continues to deploy its Revolutionary Guards elsewhere in central Syria, including near the Damascus international airport. Israel believes all this has been done with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s knowledge, and that he hasn’t tried to dissuade the Iranians from such activities, even though they put his own forces at risk.

The T-4 base, near Palmyra, that was attacked.
The T-4 base, near Palmyra, that was attacked.Google / DigitalGlobe

Israel doesn’t yet have concrete evidence that Assad’s forces used chemical weapons to slaughter civilians in rebel-held Douma, near Damascus, last weekend, but it assigns high credibility to the claims that there was a chemical attack and that Assad’s forces were responsible for it. There were reportedly two attacks at the site, one using chlorine and one using a nerve gas, possibly sarin.

An analysis of footage of the dead and wounded shows clearly that some were hit by nerve gas. Israel doesn’t believe the Syrian, Russian and Iranian claim that the rebels forged evidence of the attack, while the chance that the rebels themselves accidently used chemical weapons against civilians in an area under their control seems very slim.

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Maintaining and using such weapons is relatively difficult, and the rebels in that area – the northern and eastern suburbs of Damascus – aren’t known to have such capabilities. In contrast, an Israeli Foreign Ministry statement denouncing the use of chemical weapons said the Assad regime recently resumed making such weapons.

The Syrian army has almost finished conquering the rebel enclaves in this area. The Syrians, backed by heavy Russian aerial bombardments, have mounted massive assaults on rebel-held neighborhoods to pressure them into signing surrender agreements.

>>Top Israeli defense officials push for offensive approach in Syria against Iran  Russia’ tough rhetoric shows that Israel is losing its leeway with the Kremlin | Analysis 

But for the first time in years, the Syrians aren’t noticeably relying on Shi’ite militias affiliated with Iran. Some of those militias have been assigned other tasks, including maintaining control of areas that have already been captured, like the northern city of Aleppo.

In contrast, Hezbollah’s elite units, including its Radwan commando force, are sent into battle whenever the Syrian effort runs into trouble. They are also assigned to protect assets vital to the regime in Damascus and the Alawite region in northwestern Syria. Hezbollah has a limited presence in southern Syria as well, and Israel suspects this is part of Iran’s future plans to create military friction with Israel along the border in the Golan Heights.

Israeli military forces in northern Golan Heights.
Israeli military forces in northern Golan Heights. Gil Eliahu

After they finish the fight in northern and eastern Damascus, Assad’s forces are expected to turn on the last major pocket of resistance near the capital: the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk in southern Damascus. The Islamic State still maintains an active presence in this area.

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Later, regime forces are expected to mount a major offensive in southern Syria – in Daraa, near the Jordanian border, and probably also in the Syrian part of the Golan, near Israel’s border. Israel’s assumption is that the regime will make every effort to regain effective control of most of the Syrian Golan, and that its offensive, backed by Russia and Iran, will continue.

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-the-target-of-the-strike-on-syria-was-the-iranian-air-force-compound-1.5990918