Posts Tagged ‘T-4 air base’

Israel Conferred With U.S. on Strike in Syria to Target Iranian War Gear

April 18, 2018

Israeli leaders have kept silent about the attack, but intelligence officials offered new details on the specific target, Israel’s goals and the discussions with Washington

Israeli soldiers stood atop of an armored personnel carrier in the Golan Heights near the Israeli-Syrian border last week amid heightened tensions between the two countries.
Israeli soldiers stood atop of an armored personnel carrier in the Golan Heights near the Israeli-Syrian border last week amid heightened tensions between the two countries. PHOTO: ATEF SAFADI/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK
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WASHINGTON—With tacit American support, the Israeli military targeted an advanced Iranian air-defense system at a Syrian base last week, said intelligence officials and others briefed on the matter, the latest sign the Trump administration is working with Israel to blunt Tehran’s expanding influence in the Middle East.

After conferring with President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a strike on the newly arrived antiaircraft battery to prevent Iranian forces from using it against Israeli warplanes carrying out increasing numbers of operations in Syria, some of these people said.

Israeli officials told the Trump administration about the planned strike in advance so that the U.S. was aware of their plans to directly target an Iranian base, according to two people briefed on the plans.

Israeli leaders have kept silent about the strike, but Russia, Iran and Syria all accused Israel of carrying it out. Information provided by intelligence officials and others briefed on the strike offered new details on the specific target, Israel’s goals, and the discussions with Washington.

Last week’s attack marked a significant escalation in Israel’s efforts to prevent Iran from cementing its military presence in Syria, where Tehran and its Hezbollah ally provide vital support for President Bashar al-Assad.

Iran has threatened to hit back at Israel, which is bracing for a wider clash with Tehran. A protracted confrontation between the two Middle East rivals could create a dangerous new dynamic in Syria, where Mr. Trump is looking to extricate American forces from a convoluted conflict that shows no signs of coming to an end soon.

Some U.S. officials worry that a broader Israel-Iran fight in Syria could trigger new spasms of conflict that envelop Lebanon and Israel.

The region is roiled by a toxic stew of conflicting alliances surrounding the war in Syria. Iran, Hezbollah and Russia are helping Mr. Assad push rebels to the brink of defeat. More than 2,000 U.S. troops whose mission is to defeat Islamic State militants work alongside Kurdish and Arab forces in Syria. And Turkey has seized another section of Syria as Ankara moves to contain Kurdish ambitions.

U.S. support for the Israeli strike comes as Mr. Trump, wary of an open-ended fight in the Middle East, is leaning on allies—especially Israel and Saudi Arabia—to play a bigger role.

An Israeli Iron dome system was recently deployed near the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights.
An Israeli Iron dome system was recently deployed near the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights. PHOTO:ATEF SAFADI/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Iran has denied it is seeking to establish bases in Syria, but has said its forces will remain in the country to defend Mr. Assad’s government.

Syria’s government is on alert for more American or Israeli strikes, and on Tuesday launched missiles and sounded air-raid sirens for what turned out to be a false alarm.

Since taking office last year, Mr. Trump has allied himself with Mr. Netanyahu, giving Israel strategic backing for its efforts to target Iran’s expeditionary military operations in Syria, according to the people familiar with the discussions.

The Syrian base targeted by the Israeli airstrike has become an elevated concern for Israel. Known as T-4, Syria’s largest air force base hosts government forces, Russian fighters and a growing Iranian drone fleet used for reconnaissance and potential attacks, defense analysts said.

In February, Israel accused Iran’s Quds Force of using the base to launch a drone into Israel. An Israeli helicopter shot down the drone, which Israel said last week was fitted with explosives.

Israeli F-16s followed up by carrying out airstrikes that destroyed the suspected command post at the T-4 base operating the drone.

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TIMELINE OF RECENT ISRAELI ACTION IN SYRIA

  • January 2013 Israel strike in Syria on a suspected shipment of missiles for Hezbollah, officials said. Israel doesn’t confirm or deny the attack.
  • September 2015 Russia launches airstrikes against rebel targets. Israel and Russia agree to a coordination mechanism to avoid potential accidents.
  • June 2017 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses Iran of setting up arms factories in Syria, which Tehran denies.
  • August 2017 Israeli Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel says Israel has attacked convoys allegedly bringing arms to Hezbollah in Syria during the past 5 years.
  • September 2017 Israel strikes a Syrian military site in what former Israeli officials say is an attack to thwart military threats from Iran and Hezbollah. The strike also targets an alleged chemical weapons facility.
  • October 2017 Syrian regime fires at Israeli planes over Lebanon, the Israeli army said. In response, the Israeli military strikes a Syrian antiaircraft battery.
  • December 2017 Israel hits a military site south of Damascus under Iranian control, according to pro-Syrian regime media. Israel doesn’t comment.
  • February 2018 An Iranian drone breaches Israeli airspace and Israel mounts airstrikes in response. Syria anti-aircraft batteries down an Israeli F-16, drawing a larger-scale Israeli attack on Syrian military infrastructure.
  • April 2018 Israel mounts airstrikes against an Iranian air defense system flown from Iran to Syria, intelligence officials familiar with the operation say.

After the strikes, an Israeli jet was shot down by Soviet-era, surface-to-air missile, marking the first time one of Israel’s jets had been brought down in combat since 1982.

In response to the February strike, Iran moved to beef up its air defenses at the base. Earlier this month, Israel tracked an Iranian plane that flew a Tor missile system from Tehran to the Syrian base.

Israel moved quickly to destroy the new air defense system before Iranian forces could set it up, intelligence officials said.

Mr. Netanyahu called Mr. Trump two weeks ago to talk about Iran and Syria. Without going into detail, the White House said the two men “agreed to continue their close coordination on countering Iran’s malign influence and destabilizing activities.”

Mr. Netanyahu also told Mr. Trump about the planned strike on the Iranian base, said one person briefed on the call, but Israeli and American officials declined to provide any details.

U.S., British and French forces struck sites associated with Syria’s chemical-weapons capabilities on Friday. Video footage shows the missile launches and resulting damage. Above, a Syrian soldier films the damage. Photo: AFP/Getty

The Israeli strike came five days later, on April 9. Israel destroyed the antiaircraft system at the Syrian base and a hanger used to shelter drones, triggering denunciations from Syria, Russia and Iran. Iranian media said seven Iranian military advisers were killed, including an officer who oversaw drone operations.

Israel had begun planning the strike before a suspected Syrian chemical weapons attack on April 7. As Mr. Trump vowed to hit Mr. Assad for the chemical attack, Israel launched its strike against Iran, triggering speculation for a time that the U.S. had carried out the April 9 airstrike. An attack against chemical weapons facilities by the U.S., France and Britain followed on April 14.

Mr. Netanyahu considers permanent Iranian military bases in Syria a “red line.” Israel and the U.S. both are concerned about Iran using Syria to attack Israel and to establish a weapons supply route running from Tehran to Lebanon.

Iran is flying weapons into Khmeimim Air Base, a well-defended Russian base on the Mediterranean coast, according to intelligence officials briefed on the matter.

Iran also has rebuilt a presence at Damascus International Airport after a 2015 airstrike, and the airport also now serves as a base for Iran’s Quds Force, which has built underground storage tunnels to safeguard weaponry, these people said.

In total, Iran now works from five airfields in Syria, including Aleppo, Deir Ezzour, T-4, Damascus airport and Sayqal, located south of the capital, according to intelligence officials. At each, Iranian military transport aircraft bring weapons for Hezbollah or missiles and drones specifically for Iranian forces, these officials said.

“It’s the most serious establishment of Iranian military positions close to Israel’s border than [Israelis] have ever seen,” said James Sorene, chief executive of Bicom, a U.K.-based think tank.

The Trump administration says it will work to push Iran out of Syria, but Mr. Trump’s national security team is divided over how. The Pentagon repeatedly has dismissed suggestions that it plans to turn its focus in Syria from defeating Islamic State to challenging Iran. Pentagon officials worry that Tehran will target American forces across the region if the U.S. directly challenges Iranian forces in Syria.

However, U.S. forces in Syria haven’t always been able to avoid confrontations with Iran. Last year, U.S. warplanes shot down two Iranian-made drones viewed as a threat.

Dore Gold, former director general of Israel’s foreign ministry and president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said it is increasingly important that Israel “clarify its red lines in Syria in the event that the U.S. disengages from the region.”

Write to Dion Nissenbaum at dion.nissenbaum@wsj.com and Rory Jones at rory.jones@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/israel-conferred-with-u-s-on-strike-in-syria-to-target-iranian-war-gear-1524001066

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Israel targeted advanced Iranian air defense system in Syria strike

April 18, 2018

Jerusalem conferred with Washington before launching April 9 attack, which killed at least seven Iranian troops, Wall Street Journal reports

April 18, 2018
A Russian-made Tor missile defense system. (Vitaly V. Kuzmin/WikiMedia/CC BY-SA 4.0)

A Russian-made Tor missile defense system. (Vitaly V. Kuzmin/WikiMedia/CC BY-SA 4.0)

An alleged Israeli strike on an air base in central Syria on April 9 targeted a soon-to-be-deployed Iranian advanced air defense system and a drone hangar, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The article also confirmed that several days beforehand Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alerted the White House of the IDF’s plans to carry out the strike on the T-4 air base, which killed at least seven Iranian soldiers, including a senior officer, and sparked a near unprecedented level of public threats between Tehran and Jerusalem.

The target of the April strike was a Russian-made Tor missile defense system, which is designed to “destroy aircraft, helicopters, drones, guided missiles and other precision weapons flying at medium, low, and extremely low altitudes, in difficult air and jamming environments,” according to its manufacturer.

If deployed, this relatively modern air defense system, first purchased by Iran in 2007, could make it more difficult for Israel to conduct air raids in the areas where it is deployed.

The airstrike also destroyed a hangar that was being used for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’s drone program, according to the report.

A photo released by Iranian media reportedly shows the T-4 air base in central Syria after a missile barrage attributed to Israel on April 9, 2018. (Iranian media)

Intelligence officials cited in the Wall Street Journal said that Iran sought the Tor missile defense system in response to an Israeli airstrike on the T-4 base earlier this year.

On February 10, the IRGC flew a drone carrying explosives on an attack mission into Israeli territory from Syria, according to Israel. An Israeli attack helicopter shot down the drone and the Israeli Air Force targeted the T-4 air base in central Syria from which the aircraft had been piloted remotely.

The mobile command center from which Israel says an Iranian operator flew a drone from Syria into Israeli airspace on February 10, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Syrian military managed to hit one of the Israeli F-16 fighter jets with anti-aircraft fire, causing it to crash in northern Israel. In retaliation, Israel launched a second wave of strikes, destroying a significant percentage of the country’s air defenses.

The unnamed intelligence officials said Iran decided to bolster its own air defenses following the raid and Israel spotted the transport of the Tor missile defense system sometime soon thereafter.

The April 9 strike — which has been widely attributed to, but not officially confirmed by, Israel — was meant to destroy the Tor system before it could be set up, according to the report.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves part of an Iranian drone downed in Israeli airspace on February 10, 2018, during a speech on the third day of the 54th Munich Security Conference (MSC) held at the Bayerischer Hof hotel, in Munich, southern Germany, on February 18, 2018. (Screen capture)

Israel sees Iran, which has vowed to destroy the Jewish state, as its central enemy in the region. Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that Israel will not allow Iran to entrench itself in Syria, marking it as a “red line” that it will fight militarily if necessary.

The Wall Street Journal article came a day after an apparent Israeli effort to deter Iran from conducting a retaliatory attack for the April 9 strike.

On Tuesday, Israeli media was provided by the IDF with a map on Tuesday showing five Iranian-controlled bases in Syria, which would apparently constitute potential targets for an Israeli response should Iran carry out any kind of attack.

A map of Syria, provided to Israeli media, April 17, 2018, shows the approximate locations of five bases that Israel believes to be controlled by Iran. These are Damascus International Airport; the Sayqal air base; the T-4 air base; an airfield near Aleppo; and a base in Deir Ezzor. Their exact locations on the map do not seem to be entirely accurate. The Sayqal base, for instance, is located east of Damascus, according to open-source satellite imagery, not south of it as it appears on the map.

Iranian officials have made increasingly bellicose remarks since the alleged Israeli airstrike, threatening to make the Jewish state “regret its misdeeds,” as Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman put it on Monday.

“The Zionist regime should not be able to take action and be exempt from punishment,” he told reporters, according to Iranian news media.

Tensions rose again on Tuesday, as additional strikes were initially reported on two air bases in Syria, with the Syrian military claiming to have shot down incoming missiles. Later, the Syrian army clarified that no missiles had actually been fired, but claimed that its countermeasures were triggered by a joint Israeli-American cyberattack.

Screen capture from video showing Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami, left, during the opening of a production line to produce Iran’s Mohajer 6 drone, in Tehran, February 5, 2018. (YouTube)

Israel’s defense establishment — the country’s various intelligence services and the military — believes an Iranian revenge attack would likely be carried out by the IRGC’s air force, with surface-to-surface missiles or armed drones, The Times of Israel has learned.

That would be a departure from previous clashes between Israel and Iran, in which Tehran’s reprisals were carried out through proxies, like the Hezbollah terrorist group, rather than by its own Revolutionary Guard Corps.

There was no indication of when such an attack might take place, though Independence Day festivities scheduled for Thursday may serve as a tempting target for Iran.

“The Israel Defense Forces will do everything to ensure that Independence Day passes quietly and that the citizens of Israel can enjoy the holiday. The IDF is prepared for a wide variety of scenarios so that the citizens of Israel can celebrate the 70th Independence Day properly,” defense officials told the Ynet news site.

The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ air force Brig. Gen. Haji Zada. (Fars news)

In what could be seen as a not-so-subtle threat, a map was distributed to Israeli media outlets on Tuesday showing the five Iranian-controlled bases in Syria, along with satellite photographs of the bases and the portrait of the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ air force, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh.

The five bases identified were Damascus International Airport, through which Iranian transport planes bring in weapons and military gear; the Sayqal air base; the T-4 air base; an airfield near Aleppo; and a base in Deir Ezzor, which was recaptured from the Islamic State terror group by the regime last year.

Israeli intelligence believes the sites are used by Iran for its missions in Syria, as well as to transport weapons to its proxies in the region.

Syria’s Sayqal Air Base, located east of Damascus, which Israel believes to be partially under Iranian control. (Google Earth)

Their exact locations on the map are not entirely accurate. (The Sayqal air base, for instance, is located east of Damascus, not south of it as it appears on the map.)

Israel believes Iran’s retaliatory effort is being led by Major General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC’s Quds Force, which operates around the world, with assistance from the head of the IRGC air corps, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh; the head of its surface-to-surface missile program; Col. Mahmoud Bakri Katrem Abadi; and the head of its air defense operations, Ali Akhbar Tzeidoun.

Soleimani has repeatedly threatened Israel, and he threatened to “wipe out the Zionist entity” in February over the assassination of a Hezbollah leader, which has been attributed to the Mossad and America’s CIA.

Iran has access to a variety of surface-to-surface missiles, from short-range Fajr-5 rockets to medium-range Fateh 110 missiles, which have a range of approximately 300 kilometers (190 miles), to long-range Shehab ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets over 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) away.

To counter those threats, Israel has a multi-tiered missile defense system consisting of the Iron Dome for short-range rockets and mortar shells, the David’s Sling for medium-range missiles and the Arrow for long-range ballistic missiles.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/report-israel-targeted-advanced-iranian-air-defense-system-in-syria-strike/

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Israel prepares for Iranian revenge to include missile attacks, drone strikes

April 17, 2018

As tension mounts after alleged bombing of Syrian air base, Israel details Tehran’s aerial activities in the country, pointing out potential targets

Times of Israel
April 17, 2018
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A photo released by Iranian media reportedly shows the T-4 air base in central Syria after a missile barrage April 16, 2018. (Iranian media)

A photo released by Iranian media reportedly shows the T-4 air base in central Syria after a missile barrage April 16, 2018. (Iranian media)

Ahead of Israel’s Independence Day, the military was preparing for the possibility of a direct attack by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ air force in response to a strike on its air base in Syria earlier this month, The Times of Israel has learned.

Iranian officials have made increasingly bellicose remarks following the April 9 strike on the T-4 air base, near Palmyra in central Syria, which killed at least seven members of the IRGC, including the head of its drone program, Col. Mehdi Dehghan.

Iran, Syria, Russia and some US officials have all said explicitly that Israel was responsible for the strike. Israeli officials refuse to comment on the matter, though The New York Times quoted an Israeli military official as acknowledging that the Jewish state was behind the attack.

On Monday, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the country’s retaliation against Israel will come “sooner or later” and that Jerusalem will “regret its misdeeds.”

A photo released by Iranian media reportedly shows the T-4 air base in central Syria after a missile barrage attributed to Israel on April 9, 2018. (Iranian media)

“The Zionist regime should not be able to take action and be exempt from punishment,” spokesman Bahram Qasemi told reporters, according to Iranian news media.

Tensions rose again on Tuesday, as additional strikes were initially reported on two air bases in Syria, with the Syrian military claiming to have shot down incoming missiles. Later, the Syrian army clarified that no missiles had actually been fired, but claimed that its countermeasures were triggered by a joint Israeli-American cyberattack.

Screen capture from video showing Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami, left, during the opening of a production line to produce Iran’s Mohajer 6 drone, in Tehran, February 5, 2018. (YouTube)

Israel’s defense establishment — the country’s various intelligence services and the military — believes an Iranian revenge attack would likely be carried out by the IRGC’s air force, with surface-to-surface missiles or armed drones, The Times of Israel has learned.

That would be a departure from previous clashes between Israel and Iran, in which Tehran’s reprisals were carried out through proxies, like the Hezbollah terrorist group, rather than by its own Revolutionary Guard Corps.

There was no indication of when such an attack might take place, though Independence Day festivities scheduled for Thursday may serve as a tempting target for Iran.

“The Israel Defense Forces will do everything to ensure that Independence Day passes quietly and that the citizens of Israel can enjoy the holiday. The IDF is prepared for a wide variety of scenarios so that the citizens of Israel can celebrate the 70th Independence Day properly,” defense officials told the Ynet news site.

In what could be seen as a not-so-subtle threat, a map was distributed to Israeli media outlets on Tuesday showing five Iranian-controlled bases in Syria — potential targets for the Israel Defense Forces if Iran does carry out reprisals.

A map of Syria, provided to Israeli media, shows the approximate locations of five bases that Israel believes to be controlled by Iran.

These are Damascus International Airport, through which Iranian transport planes bring in weapons and military gear; the Sayqal air base; the T-4 air base; an airfield near Aleppo; and a base in Deir Ezzor, which was recaptured from the Islamic State terror group by the regime last year.

Israeli intelligence believes the sites are used by Iran for its missions in Syria, as well as to transport weapons to its proxies in the region.

Their exact locations on the map are not entirely accurate. (The Sayqal air base, for instance, is located east of Damascus, not south of it as it appears on the map.)

Israel believes Iran’s retaliatory effort is being led by Major General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC’s Quds Force, which operates around the world, with assistance from the head of the IRGC air corps, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh; the head of its surface-to-surface missile program; Col. Mahmoud Bakri Katrem Abadi; and the head of its air defense operations, Ali Akhbar Tzeidoun.

The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ air force Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh. (Fars news)

Soleimani has repeatedly threatened Israel, and he threatened to “wipe out the Zionist entity” in February over the assassination of a Hezbollah leader, which has been attributed to the Mossad and America’s CIA.

Iran has access to a variety of surface-to-surface missiles, from short-range Fajr-5 rockets to medium-range Fateh 110 missiles, which have a range of approximately 300 kilometers (190 miles) to long-range Shehab ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets over 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) away.

To counter those threats, Israel has a multi-tiered missile defense system consisting of the Iron Dome for short-range rockets and mortar shells, the David’s Sling for medium-range missiles and the Arrow for long-range ballistic missiles.

Iran has been supporting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad since the start of his country’s civil war, first providing him with things like riot control gear at the start of the clashes and then expanding that assistance to include routine war materiel drops.

Western officials have accused Iran of using seemingly civilian airlines as fronts for the IRGC to conduct military transport missions to Syria from Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport.

Syria’s Sayqal Air Base, located east of Damascus, which Israel believes to be partially under Iranian control. (Google Earth)

Pouya Airlines, for instance, was subjected to US sanctions in 2014 for “transporting illicit cargo, including weapons, to Iran’s clients in the Levant,” according to the US Treasury Department.

Over time, the IRGC began setting up its own facilities on Syrian military bases and air fields.

Earlier this year, the Syrian news site Zaman Al Wasl quoted an Assad regime military official as saying that Iran had operatives placed on military bases throughout the country.

The Syrian outlet identified other Iranian sites in the country in addition to the five bases on the map sent out to Israeli media, including an air base near Homs under Iranian and Hezbollah control that is used to train Shiite forces.

The Tiyas, or T-4, Air Base, outside of the Syrian city of Palmyra, which Israel claims is being operated by Iran and its Quds Force. (Screen capture/Wikimapia)

The T-4 air base, also known as the Tiyas air base, has specifically been tied to the IRGC’s drone program.

Israel targeted the base on February 10, after a drone loaded with explosives was flown into Israeli airspace in order to carry out an attack, according to the Israeli military.

An Israeli attack helicopter shot down the drone moments after it entered Israeli airspace and Israeli fighter jets later targeted the mobile control center on the T-4 air base from which it was piloted.

The drone appeared to be a relatively new stealth model known as a Saeqeh, whose design was stolen from an American unmanned aerial vehicle that was captured by Iran in 2011, according to aviation analysts.

In this image made from video provided by Yehunda Pinto, the wreckage of an Israeli F-16 is seen on fire near Harduf, northern Israel, February 10, 2018. (Yehunda Pinto via AP)

During the Syrian counterattack against the Israeli jets, one F-16 was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed in a field in northern Israel after the pilot and navigator ejected from it.

In response to that downing of the fighter jet, Israel launched a large-scale attack on Syria’s air defenses, destroying between one-third and one-half of its capabilities, according to the IDF.

Israel sees Iran, which has vowed to destroy the Jewish state, as its central enemy in the region. Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that Israel will not allow Iran to entrench itself in Syria, marking it as a “red line” that it will fight militarily if necessary.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-prepares-for-iranian-revenge-to-include-missile-attacks-drone-strikes/

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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

Israel says strikes on Syria are ‘appropriate,’ issues further warnings: “Don’t test the resolve of the State of Israel.”

April 14, 2018

Jerusalem says Damascus’ actions put Syria, its ‘(military) forces and its leadership in danger,’ singles out allowing Iran a greater foothold in the country

Smoke rises after airstrikes targeting different parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, Syria, early Saturday, April 14, 2018. Syria's capital has been rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke as U.S. President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country's alleged use of chemical weapons. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Smoke rises after airstrikes targeting different parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, Syria, early Saturday, April 14, 2018. Syria’s capital has been rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke as U.S. President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country’s alleged use of chemical weapons. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Israel on Saturday said that the combined US, British and French strikes on Syria was an “appropriate” response to the alleged chemical gas attack and warned that Damascus’ actions put it in danger of further strikes, including against its leadership.

“Last year, (US) President (Donald) Trump made it clear that using chemical weapons crossed a red line. Tonight, led by the Americans, the US, France and Britain acted appropriately,” said a statement attributed to an unnamed official in Jerusalem.

“Syria continues to carry out murderous actions and to be a base for these and other actions, including by Iran, that puts its territory, forces and leadership in danger,” the terse statement said.

Israel was informed ahead of the strikes, sources said.

The strikes occurred early Saturday morning, the Sabbath in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu generally refrains from putting out official statements in his name on the Jewish day of rest.

The Israeli statement came just hours after Trump announced that a joint US-British-French operation had been launched on Syria, targeting the “criminal” regime of Bashar Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians and to deter him from doing it again.

US President Donald Trump addresses the nation on the situation in Syria April 13, 2018 at the White House in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN)

Loud explosions lit up the skies over the Syrian capital as Trump announced the airstrikes.

“A short time ago, I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad,” Trump said in a primetime televised address to the nation.

“A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is now under way. We thank them both. This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime.”

General Joseph Dunford, Washington’s top general, said the precision strikes hit a scientific research center near Damascus, a storage facility and command post also near the capital and a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs. He said Syrian surface to air missile batteries had attempted to fire back, but there were no initial reports of any allied losses.

Trump said the US was prepared to “sustain” pressure on Assad until he ends what the president called a criminal pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons. It was not immediately clear whether Trump meant the allied military operation would extend beyond an initial nighttime round of missile strikes.

Missiles streak across the Damascus skyline as the US launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the capital, early Saturday, April 14, 2018 (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

“The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead,” Trump said.

Later, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said no additional strikes on Syria were planned. “Right now this is a one-time shot,” he said.

But while the Israeli statement came following the strike on the chemical weapons facilities, its mention of Iran’s continued attempts to entrench itself in Syria, reflected Israel’s primary concern.

Israel revealed on Friday that an Iranian drone shot down in Israeli airspace in February after launching from an airbase in Syria was carrying explosives. The base was attacked on Monday, allegedly by Israel, in a strike that reportedly targeted Iran’s entire attack drone weapons system — prompting soaring tensions between Israel and Iran.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves part of an Iranian drone downed in Israeli airspace on February 10, 2018, during a speech on the third day of the 54th Munich Security Conference (MSC) held at the Bayerischer Hof hotel, in Munich, southern Germany, on February 18, 2018. (Screen capture)

The Iranian drone shot down in February was carrying enough explosives to cause damage, military sources said. Its precise intended target in Israel was not known, they said.

The February incident marked an unprecedented direct Iranian attack on Israel. Israel’s acknowledgement of the nature of the drone’s mission “brings the confrontation” between Israel and Iran “into the open” for the first time, Israel’s Channel 10 news noted Friday.

Netanyahu used a speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day this week to warn Iran: “Don’t test the resolve of the State of Israel.”

 

The alleged Israeli attack this week on the base from which the drone was despatched is understood to have targeted Iran’s entire drone weapons system at the Syrian base, which was protected by surface-to-air missiles and other defenses, the TV report said.

“This was a harsh blow” to the Iranians, it added. “It is clear they will react.”

Immediately after shooting down the Iranian drone on February 10, Israel carried out airstrikes against a number of Iranian targets in Syria, including on the T-4 base in central Syria where the Iranian operator of the drone was located.

A photo released by Iranian media reportedly shows the T-4 air base in central Syria after a missile barrage attributed to Israel on Monday April 9, 2018. (Iranian media)

During the aerial raids, an Israeli F-16 was downed by a Syrian anti-aircraft battery, crashing to earth in Israel, prompting further Israeli retaliatory raid against Syria’s anti-aircraft systems. Both the Israeli pilots ejected.

Senior Israel Official: “If Iran Acts Against Israel, We’ll Topple Assad”

April 12, 2018

Jerusalem Post

“Assad’s regime and Assad himself will disappear from the map and the world if the Iranians do try to harm Israel or its interests from Syrian territory.”

BY BEN CASPIT/MAARIV
 APRIL 11, 2018 13:17

 

Top Iranian official says Israel to face 'response' over air base attack

An Israeli F-16 fighter jet. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

 U.S., Russia clash at U.N. over chemical weapons attacks in Syria

 First photos emerge of Syrian base allegedly targeted by Israeli air strike.

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“If the Iranians act against Israel from Syrian territory, Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime will be those that pay the price.”

That is the clear message from senior officials in the Israeli defense establishment and IDF after the top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called a strike on the Syrian T-4 air base “Israel’s crime” and said the alleged act would “not remain without response.

“Assad’s regime and Assad himself will disappear from the map and the world if the Iranians do try to harm Israel or its interests from Syrian territory,” said senior officials in the defense establishment.

“Our recommendation to Iran is that it does not try to act, because Israel is determined to continue on this issue to the very end,” the officials said.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Tuesday that Israel will take all necessary steps to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military base in Syria.

“No matter what the price, we will not allow Iran to have a permanent [military] foothold in Syria. We have no other choice,” said Liberman.

Expanding on Liberman’s comments, security officials believe that Iran may try to retaliate to the alleged Israeli attack, either with Iranian weapons transported into Syria from Iran or by “borrowing” Syrian army systems.

Officials do not believe that direct conflict between Israel, Iran and Syria will necessarily draw Lebanese militant group Hezbollah into the conflict.

“We hope that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah will not join and be drawn into the campaign if it breaks out,” senior security officials told The Jerusalem Post’s sister newspaper Maariv on Tuesday.

“We have no interest in widening the front but, should it happen, Nasrallah needs to understand that his fate will be no different from the fate of Assad and he will pay a very heavy price.”

Israeli officials were said to be confident Tuesday that US President Donald Trump intended to stand by his comments referring to a possible American strike in Syria, in response to another use of chemical weaponry by Assad’s forces against his own citizens.

See also:

http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iran-News/Top-Iranian-official-says-Israel-to-face-response-over-air-base-549380

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