by: Ilse Strauss
Monday, 29 June 2020 | Two separate series of air raids—one late on Saturday and the other early on Sunday—struck a number of Iranian targets in eastern Syria. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, fifteen pro-Iranian militia members were killed in the strikes. The Britain-based war monitor said Israel was “likely responsible.”
The strikes on Saturday targeted Tehran-linked positions near the Syrian border with Iraq and killed six Iranian militia fighters, including four Syrian nationals. Hours later, the second round of raids in 24 hours struck additional Iranian positions east of Deir Ezzor, eastern Syria, killing 9 pro-Iranian soldiers—mostly Iraqi nationals—bringing the weekend’s death toll to 15.
The series of strikes come hours after the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC) Esmail Ghaani paid a visit to the Syrian city of Al-Bukamal near the Iraqi border. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Islamic Republic uses the corridor between Al-Bukamal and Deir Ezzor as a pivotal munitions trafficking passage for precision guided weapons and has a network of pro-Iranian militias stationed in the area.
Ghaani, who stepped into the position of heading the paramilitary force after his predecessor Qassem Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone strike early this year, was reportedly in the area to visit Iranian troops. The IRGC head also used the trip as a publicity platform to punt a number of conspiracy theories, claiming that the US perpetrated the 9/11 attacks to spark war in the Middle East and that Israel and the US gave birth to ISIS. Ghaani reportedly vowed to continue fighting the “Zionist regime” and the US.
Israel remained mum on the weekend’s strikes in line with its “no comment” policy on alleged operations on foreign soil. However, Brig.–Gen. (res.) Nitzan Nuriel, former director of Israel’s Counterterrorism Bureau, told the Jerusalem Press Club: “I don’t think that there are any connections between events like visits…and Israeli strikes. Those strikes are based on very good intelligence. We (Israel) plan them for a very long time because we cannot make mistakes…”
The strikes over the weekend come four days after Syria accused the Jewish state of carrying out three series of air strikes against Iranian targets overnight Tuesday in the war-torn country, bringing the tally of alleged Israeli raids over the past month to five. Seven people—two Syrian soldiers and five pro-Iranian militia members—were reportedly killed in Tuesday’s strikes.
Israeli military and political powers-that-be have over the last two years acknowledged that Jerusalem has conducted hundreds of strikes since the start of the Syrian Civil War to dislodge Iranian targets from Syria and thwart the transfer of advanced weapons from Tehran to its terror proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Iran has invested significant human resources, funds and time into turning war-torn Syria into an Iranian military outpost, manufacturing base for advanced weaponry and convenient offset point to funnel advanced precision-guided missiles to upgrade Hezbollah’s arsenal. For its part, Israel has made every effort to prevent Iran from reaching this goal and has admitted to conducting hundreds of strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, many of whom were reported to be involved in smuggling advanced weapons to Lebanon.
“We cannot kick Iran out of Syria, and Iran is about to stay inside of Syria forever,” Brig.–Gen. (res.) Nuriel said. “And yet we can control as far as we can the quality of the forces, the quality of the advanced military systems. When we have the intelligence, we try to prevent Iran to equip those Shia militias with advance ammunition systems. Most of the attacks [are on] assets [that] belong to Iran, in order to make sure that they will not be able to have very strong military positions in Syria.”
Posted on June 29, 2020
Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 29, 2020)
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