by: Ilse Strauss
Wednesday, 18 November 2020 | Israeli fighter jets carried out a series of air strikes on military targets belonging to the elite Iranian Quds Force and the Syrian army throughout Syria in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.
The retaliatory attack comes in answer to an Iranian-led terror effort to plant and set off several anti-personnel mines against IDF troops in an Israeli-controlled buffer zone along the Syrian border, the spot where Israel used to operate a clinic for Syrian civilians fleeing the brutal civil war as part of the humanitarian program “Operation Good Neighbor.” The IDF uncovered and disarmed the explosives on Tuesday morning.
According to IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman, this morning’s strikes targeted eight sites in Syria—half near Damascus and the other half on the Syrian Golan Heights. The targets included the Iranian military headquarters in Syria, located next to the Damascus International Airport; secret military barracks that top Iranian commanders in Syria call home; and the command post of the Syrian army’s 7th Division, which works hand-in-hand with Iran’s Quds Force.
Syria’s state news agency SANA claimed that three soldiers died in the strike, while the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights puts the number of fatalities at 10. It remains unclear whether the casualties are Syrian army soldiers or members of Iran’s Quds Force.
Israel has repeatedly warned that it will not allow Iran to gain a military foothold on its doorstep in Syria or use the war-torn country as a distribution channel to funnel advanced weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. In fact, top Israeli military and political leaders have admitted to conducting hundreds of strikes in Syria to thwart Iran’s ambitions of regional hegemony.
This morning’s strike was, however, different. Israel’s standard policy is to remain mum on any alleged operations conducted on foreign soil—or in foreign airspace—seeking to minimize the threat of honor-driven retaliation attacks.
The admission of Jerusalem conducting hundreds of strikes in Syria came as a bulk acknowledgment, an unspecified owning up, well after the fact. Yet this morning, the IDF claimed responsibility as the eight sites in Syria still lay smoldering, which means the attack was meant to send a message to the mullahs in Tehran and the Syrian powers-that-be.
“We won’t allow Iran to continue to embed themselves in Syria and especially along the border, and we won’t let the Syrians continue to let them,” Zilberman told reporters. “We are attacking against the host and the visitor who is really not wanted.”
This morning’s strike follows hot on the heels of a New York Times report that President Donald Trump convened top advisers last week to determine his options for launching offensive strikes on Iran’s primary nuclear site: the heavily fortified Natanz nuclear center. The meeting occurred a day after the United Nations nuclear watchdog announced that Tehran has increased its stockpile of enriched uranium to 12 times the 447-pound (203-kg) limit stipulated by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
According to the Times, the national security aides allegedly cautioned the US president against a major strike, either with missiles or a cyberattack, warning that it could ignite a wider conflict engulfing the entire volatile region. The aides reportedly left the Oval Office convinced that President Trump had dismissed the option, but is still mulling a more measured course of action.
Posted on November 18, 2020
Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 18, 2020)
Photo Credit: Mohammad Sadegh Heydari/wikimedia.org
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