Gaza blast injures more than 20 peopleA blast in a residential area of Hamas-ruled Gaza strip injured more than 20 people, said Palestinian officials. The explosion took place inside home of a member of Gaza’s armed groups.“An explosion occurred in a house in Beit Hanoun this morning, resulting in a number of injuries,” the interior ministry said.An investigation had been launched into the cause of the blast but it is understood to be accidental. AFP cited medical sources who said that 20 people were injured and condition of 2 of them is serious.Witnesses said several homes were damaged as a result of the explosion in the home of an “activist”. Police cordoned off the area.There was no immediate official explanation of the explosion, but the Israeli military said it was the result of militants “storing weapons in residential homes”.Houses “have been turned into warehouses for weapons… and missiles for terrorist organisations, and those who pay the price in the end are innocent civilians,” the military’s Arabic-language spokesman, Avichay Adraee, said on Twitter.Islamist group Hamas seized control of Gaza from rival Palestinian movement Fatah in a near civil war in 2007.Since then, Hamas has fought three devastating wars with Israel, which has maintained a crippling blockade on the territory of some two million people.
If the Israelis seek to destroy Iranian nuclear sites, they would need to rely on their air force; however, the fly distance is long, and there are other diplomatic complications.
Benjamin Weil(January 21, 2021 / JNS)
As the senior Biden administration officials settle into their new positions and form a detailed policy in regards to the Iranian nuclear program, Israeli military personnel head to the drawing board to plan an attack. Israel has never and will never rely on another country to secure their future and national security interests on its behalf. If the Israelis seek to destroy Iranian nuclear sites, they would need to rely on their air force to deliver bunker buster bombs—possibly their GBU-28 laser-guided bombs they purchased a decade ago.
The primary concerns of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) are the long distance between Israel and Iran; being attacked by long-range and short-range defense systems; and enemy radar detecting the IAF prior to entering Iranian airspace and alerting the Iranians of the Israeli intrusion. To counter radars and long-range defense systems, the IAF would have to fly at low altitudes, masking behind the hilly terrain from enemy radars.
That does, however, come at a cost. Flying low consumes more fuel—a luxury the Israeli pilots do not have due to the long distance. Furthermore, since the IAF would need to fly directly over the nuclear site to release the bombs, flying low would dangerously expose the pilots to the short-range defense systems surrounding the nuclear sites. An Israeli strike plan would also likely include a refueling of the jets.
The shortest viable route is flying over Jordan and Iraq into Iran. Israel and Jordan cooperate on numerous defense interests, and Israel has proven its air-force capabilities in the skies of Iraq in numerous attacks attributed to the IAF. However, this route would require the IAF to fly relatively close to the Syrian and Iraqi capitals. They would risk being fired upon by the air-defense systems, or worse, detected by the radars and alerting the Iranians. This route would also require a refueling somewhere above the eastern Jordanian or western Iraqi skies.
To avoid flying around city capitals, Israel can choose the northern route, flying over the Mediterranean, along the Syrian-Turkish border, through Iraq and into Iran. Aside form this route being longer and further complicating the refueling process, it would require close coordination with the Russia military. I believe that the Israeli military and intelligence communities are very skeptical about sharing such highly sensitive military plans with the Russian. Notwithstanding, this route has the advantage of bypassing radars and defense systems more easily since it is considered mountainous and less controlled.
And then, of course, there is the southern route. This would take the Israeli pilot over Saudi Arabia and from there either through the Persian Gulf or Iraq into Iran. This route seems viable since both Saudi Arabia and Israel, although not allies, share the Iranian nuclear program as a common threat. Moreover, the IAF is familiar with this route from the 1981 strike on the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor. Over Saudi skies, the Israeli pilots would be able to refuel and fly freely. The major obstacle to overcome would be the Saudi hesitation to help Israel execute this attack in fear of an Iranian response.
Lastly is the option of stationing Israeli jets in neighboring countries to Iran and using them as a base to execute a strike. Launching a strike from a neighboring country would avoid having to fly low, and more importantly, can potentially avoid having the refueling process. The UAE and Bahrain are less than 500 kilometers away from Iran. There is also Israel’s ally north of Iran, Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan and Israel have been cooperating on security issues for years. During the recent flare-up in Nagorno-Karabakh, Israel stood on the Azeri side despite international criticism. Azerbaijan could repay Israel for its loyalty, though like the Saudis might not want to get their hands dirty with the Iranians.
When it comes to the UAE and Bahrain, a possible Iranian retaliation is an existential threat, but so is a nuclear Iran. The question is which is bigger. If the United States can guarantee their security, this may be the most viable option.
Having an array of option will keep Iran on its toes, not knowing where to expect an Israeli attack. No matter the option Israel may choose, it would require cooperation with America and other layers of proficiency, such as electronic warfare, cyber capabilities, intelligence assets and more. The bigger question that should be addressed is how to prepare for a defensive move the day after an attack.
Benjamin Weil is director of the Project for Israel’s National Security for the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, D.C. He formerly served as the international adviser to Yuval Steinitz, a member of Israel’s Security Cabinet.
The Israeli military said on Monday that its warplanes struck sites belonging to the Hamas in the Gaza Strip after two
Sentinel Digital Desk
The Israeli military said on Monday that its warplanes struck sites belonging to the Hamas in the Gaza Strip after two rockets were fired from the besieged Palestinian enclave. Aan Israeli military spokesperson said in a statement that the jets struck Hamas military targets, including a tunnels, reports Xinhua news agency. The two rockets fired earlier from the Gaza Strip fell in the sea before reaching Israel, according to the Israeli military. There were no reports of injuries on both sides. It was not immediately clear which group in Gaza fired the rockets but the spokesperson said that Israel considers Hamas “responsible for all events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it”. (IANS)
Palestinians say a residential home was targeted by Israeli artillery with family sleeping inside.
Israeli tank fire struck a number of sites in the Gaza Strip, including a residential home, in the second night of attacks on the coastal enclave.
Local Palestinian sources said there were no casualties from the Israeli artillery barrage, but material damage was done to a house located in the Maghazi refugee camp on Tuesday night.
Abu Mazen Abdel-Jawad’s family of five were sleeping when Israeli tanks targeted a room built on the roof of their three-storey home.
A relative of the family, Tayseer Abdel-Jawad, told Palestinian news agency Maan the roof of the house caved in, but the family survived unscathed.
“The bombing caused great damage inside the house,” he said. “The family miraculously escaped certain death.”
Israeli tanks also targeted observation points and locations east of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahia, and Deir Al-Balah.
According to the Israeli army, the tanks fired on Hamas positions after a rocket was fired from the Palestinian enclave towards Israel.
Late in the evening, a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory,” the army said in a statement on WhatsApp. “In response, Israeli tanks struck Hamas positions” in the south of the Gaza Strip.
An earlier military statement said warning sirens were not activated in built-up areas, indicating the projectile fell on open ground.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Hamas – Gaza’s rulers – did not claim responsibility for the rocket fire, but Israel holds it responsible for any attacks from Gaza.
Early on Monday, two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards the coastal city of Ashdod with Israeli military sources indicating they dropped into the Mediterranean Sea.
A few hours later, the Israeli army said its fighter jets struck Hamas facilities in southern Gaza.
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007. Israel has since waged three deadly offensives against the Strip, in which thousands of civilians were killed.
Associated PressJanuary 18, 2021
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military says its aircraft struck targets in the Gaza Strip in response to two rockets fired from the Palestinian territory. It says fighter jets hit Hamas military targets early on Monday, including sites for digging underground tunnels, some of which stretch into Israel. There were no immediate reports of injuries from the airstrikes. There were also no reports of damage or injury from the rockets launched. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the Islamic militant group seized power of the coastal enclave in 2007. There’s been no major confrontation since 2014 but there are often cross-border skirmishes between the sides.
Updated 18 January 2021 AFP January 18, 2021 06:27
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Israel’s military said Monday its fighter planes struck Hamas facilities in the Gaza Strip after Palestinians fired rockets at the Jewish state.
Two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward the coast near the southern city of Ashdod, according to a military statement.
“In response…fighter jets struck military targets belonging to the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip, including tunnel digging sites,” the army said.
There were no reports of any damage from Palestinian rockets, with Israeli army sources indicating they had landed in the Mediterranean Sea.
Palestinian security sources in Gaza said the Israeli fire hit “farmland” in the southern Khan Yunis area of the enclave, causing damage but no injuries.
There was no immediate claim for the rocket launches from Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Palestinians in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank are heading for respective legislative and presidential elections in May and July, the first in 15 years.
The polls are part of a warming of ties between Hamas and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s West Bank-based Fatah party.
The dates were announced on Friday in a presidential decree by Abbas.
In the last Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, Hamas won an unexpected landslide.
The polls resulted in a brief unity government but it soon collapsed. In 2007, bloody clashes erupted between the two principal Palestinian factions, with Hamas ultimately seizing control of Gaza.
Last week an Israeli tank fired at “a Hamas military post” in the southern Gaza Strip, after shots were fired at a military vehicle working on its side of the border fence, the Israeli army said.
In late December Hamas and Islamic Jihad staged joint military exercises in the coastal territory, during which they fired rockets out to sea, in the first exercise of its kind.
The Palestinian forces also simulated various combat scenarios with Israeli troops, an AFP reporter said.
The events marked the anniversary of the first Hamas war with Israel, in 2008, a year after the Islamists took power in Gaza.
Since then, they have fought two more wars, in 2012 and 2014.
With US in transition, the IDF sees Tehran as less likely to retaliate, and is making hay by expanding and intensifying its air campaign against Iranian forces across the border
By Judah Ari Gross 14 Jan 2021, 1:23 pm
Over the past two and a half weeks, Israel has reportedly conducted at least four rounds of airstrikes on Iran-linked sites in Syria, including a major bombardment in the predawn hours of Wednesday morning according to media outlets there, in a major step up from the normal scope and frequency of attacks.
Wednesday’s attack was a major operation against Iran’s efforts to establish a permanent military presence in the country, one of the largest reported Israeli airstrikes in years, with over 15 sites bombed in eastern Syria some 500 kilometers (300 miles) from Israel, according to Syrian reports.
The bombing was both more intense than normal — in comparison, the Israel Defense Forces said it struck some 50 targets in Syria in all of 2020 — and took place much farther from Israel than most attacks attributed to the Jewish state. The three other rounds of airstrikes in last few weeks took place in areas closer to Damascus and the Syrian Golan.
The IDF had no comment on the late-night strikes, in accordance with its policy to neither confirm nor deny its operations in Syria save for those in retaliation to an attack on Israel from the country.
The significant increase in the frequency and scope of the attacks stems from an assessment by the Israel Defense Forces, shared with The Times of Israel, that Iran is unlikely to retaliate in a major way to these strikes in the short term.
In general over the past year, Iran has not responded to Israeli airstrikes — either not finding a way to do so or being stopped by Israel from doing so — and currently Tehran appears to be preparing to enter into negotiations with US President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration, which would be more difficult were it to be actively engaged in fighting with Washington’s key ally in the region. While Iran takes a wait-and-see approach, Israel is taking advantage.
Syrian Air defenses respond to alleged Israeli missiles targeting south of the capital Damascus, on July 20, 2020. (AFP)
Even if the frequency of IDF strikes decreases in the coming weeks, it would more likely be due to operational restrictions than the incoming Biden administration trying to curb Israel. The same window of opportunity is expected to remain as long as Tehran holds out hopes of talks with the new president, allowing Israel to continue its efforts in Syria, which are intended to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily in the country and using it to move weapons that would threaten the Jewish state.
“The Biden administration won’t stop Israel from striking [in Syria],” Amos Yadlin, a former Military Intelligence chief, told the Times of Israel.
According to Israeli officials, the campaign against Iran in Syria has been on the whole successful, stymieing Tehran’s plans for the country and largely keeping the bulk of its forces further from Israel’s borders.
“They wanted to shape [Syria] in the model of Hezbollah, to have masses of soldiers there, with missiles, with the ability to strike Israel, to exhaust Israel,” Minister Tzachi Hanegbi told the Kan broadcaster Wednesday.
“In the past four years… they failed to turn Syria into something like the second Hezbollah. They tried to build there a military force and Israel — time after time — destroyed those attempts and that infrastructure. They haven’t given up, they haven’t quit, but they have failed,” he said.
Last month, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi made a similar claim, telling reporters in a year-end briefing that the IDF has noted a marked drop over the previous two years in the number of Iran-backed fighters in Syria, an increase in the number of Iranian military bases being closed in the country, and a significant decrease in the amount of weaponry being transported into and through Syria.
“Iranian entrenchment in Syria is in a clear trend of slowing down as a direct result of IDF activities, though we still have a way to go to reach our goals on this front,” Kohavi said.
Yet the Islamic Republic has not thrown in the towel and still maintains a significant military presence in the country, even if it is smaller than it desires.
According to Syrian media reports, the targets of the Wednesday strike were primarily weapons warehouses around the Deir Ezzor and Boukamal regions, areas known to contain significant numbers of Iran-backed militias, which are more difficult for Israel to strike due to their greater distance from the border.
Jan 13, 2021
Replying to @QalaatM
E. #Syria: the military Security (Intelligence)’s HQ in #DeirEzzor-city is among the targets bombed today by #Israel. One dead identified so far (from Masyaf). Multiple wounded too.
E. #Syria: more evidence showing aftermath of #Israel|i airstrikes today in #DeirEzzor province:
– ammo warehouse W. of DeZ-city (1)
– informal border crossing with #Iraq, near #AbuKemal (2-3)
Death toll of 50+ (SOHR) is however fabricated.
11:06 AM · Jan 13, 2021
20 are Tweeting about this
Israeli and Western intelligence officials, as well as Syrian opposition media, have said that these areas are used by Tehran as part of a so-called land corridor to transport weapons from Iran through Iraq into Syria and, in some cases, on to Lebanon, where its most significant proxy, Hezbollah, is based.
Boukamal was also targeted multiple times in 2018 and 2019 in a failed bid to block the construction of the infrastructure likely used to transport missiles into Syria in recent weeks.
This file photo released Sept. 3, 2017, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian troops and pro-government gunmen standing next to a sign in Arabic which reads, “Deir el-Zour welcomes you,” in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, Syria. (SANA via AP)
“The other side, as I understand, is not prepared to surrender because they invested a huge fortune and massive resources in the success of Assad and they want to collect their fee from Assad, which is their ability to operate freely from within Syria, which they saved from falling into the hands of the rebels,” Hanegbi said.
According to Omar Abu Layla, a Europe-based activist who runs DeirEzzor24, a pro-opposition media collective with researchers on the ground in eastern Syria, these warehouses contained a particularly large shipment of missiles that had been brought into the area by the Iran-backed Fatimiyeon militia in recent weeks.
In a highly irregular move, a senior US intelligence official confirmed to the Associated Press that Israel was behind the Wednesday strikes. The official said the intelligence behind the attack was provided by the US. It’s unlikely, though, that Israel would launch such a significant raid based solely on American intelligence, based on its standard operating procedure.
More curiously, the official also claimed the warehouses that were targeted were used to transport components that support Iran’s nuclear program — though not that these materials were themselves targeted in the strikes. This is an eyebrow-raising proposition, given the fact that Deir Ezzor was the site of Syria’s own nuclear reactor before it was destroyed by the Israeli Air Force in 2007.
Yadlin, the current head of the influential Institute for National Security Studies, dismissed this claim as “fake news” and said that these were simply not the supply lines used by Iran for its nuclear program.
Asked if the attribution to a senior US intelligence official didn’t lend some credence to the claim, Yadlin told The Times of Israel: “A former senior Israeli intelligence official is saying this report has no logical [basis].”
Recent months have seen rising tensions between Iran and the US and Israel, amid speculation that outgoing US President Donald Trump would use his final week in office to launch a military strike against Tehran.
The US has deployed B-52 heavy bombers to the Middle East, sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf and sought to diplomatically challenge Iran by releasing intelligence tying the Islamic Republic to the Al-Qaeda terror group earlier this week. The US has also stepped up its sanctions on Iranian entities.
The head of Iran’s military nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was also killed in November in an attack that was widely attributed to Israel.
In a somewhat subtler move, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen traveled to Washington, DC, this week, meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a public space, prompting widespread speculation on what the two discussed.
Iran, in turn, has taken a number of provocative steps on the nuclear front, announcing that it was beginning to enrich uranium to 20 percent, a major breach of the 2015 nuclear deal, which it has been steadily violating since Trump abandoned the agreement in 2018. On Wednesday, Tehran announced it was also advancing research into uranium metal, a key component of nuclear weapons, with limited civilian uses.
In addition, the Iranian military has staged two large exercises, one focusing on drones and the other on the navy.
Iran also seized a South Korean oil tanker that had been sailing through the Persian Gulf, an apparent act of revenge for some $7 billion in Iranian assets that were frozen by Seoul.
Despite these growing signs of tensions, Hanegbi said Israel did not anticipate some kind of attack in the coming week.
“The [Israeli] assessment is that nothing dramatic will happen during this week,” he said. “This is the calm before the storm.”
The minister, who is considered a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, explained that the “storm” would be what comes as the United States negotiates a new nuclear deal with Tehran, saying that if Israel did not feel such an agreement ensured its security, it would attack Iran’s nuclear program.
The exterior of the Arak heavy water production facility in Arak, Iran, 360 kilometers southwest of Tehran, October 27, 2004. (AP Photo)
Biden has publicly stated his intention to rejoin the accord — known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — provided Iran also returns to the terms of the deal and use that agreement as a jumping off point for further negotiations.
Those opposed to the JCPOA, as well as some proponents of it, argue that a simple return to the deal would give up the considerable leverage that Trump’s sanctions regime has achieved. Instead, those people argue, Biden should attempt to negotiate a far stronger deal, one that does not have the expiration dates of the JCPOA, with greater access for international inspectors, and also addressing Iran’s ballistic missile program and malign influence in the region. Supporters of Biden’s plan maintain that a significantly more robust deal is not feasible now, but could be negotiated going forward.
This is the calm before the storm
“If the United States government rejoins the nuclear deal — and that seems to be the stated policy as of now — the practical result will be that Israel will again be alone against Iran, which by the end of the deal will have received a green light from the world, including the United States, to continue with its nuclear weapons program,” Hanegbi said.
“This of course we will not allow. We’ve already twice done what needed to be done, in 1981 against the Iraqi nuclear program and in 2007 against the Syrian nuclear program,” he said, referring to airstrikes on those two countries’ nuclear reactors.
Israeli tanks shell nearby Hamas position in response to attacks; exchange comes amid relative lull in violence from the Strip
By Judah Ari Gross 13 Jan 2021, 1:51 pm
Gunshots were fired at Israeli military bulldozers operating on the southern Gaza border in two separate attacks on Wednesday afternoon, the Israel Defense Forces said.
No Israeli troops were injured. At least one vehicle was lightly damaged, the military said.
In response to the two attacks, Israeli tanks shelled empty Hamas positions near the border. Palestinian media published photos of the demolished posts, which were principally constructed of tin sheets.
وكالة شهاب للأنباء
#صور آثار قصف قوات الاحتلال نقطة للضبط الميداني شرق خانيونس جنوب قطاع غزة.
5:42 AM · Jan 13, 2021
See وكالة شهاب للأنباء’s other Tweets
Residents of southern Israel, as well as Palestinian media outlets, reported that Israeli fighter jets were heard overhead following the second exchange.
The first shooting attack was reported shortly after noon Wednesday. Just over an hour later, the military said a second round of shots were fired at another engineering vehicle on the border.
Photographs of the bulldozer that was hit in the first shooting, which were quickly shared on social media, showed damage caused to the vehicle’s bulletproof windshields.
المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام
صور| آثار استهداف جرافات الاحتلال بإطلاق نار خلال توغلها شرق خانيونس جنوب قطاع غزة ، قبل قليل.
3:52 AM · Jan 13, 2021
See المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام’s other Tweets
Following the first attack, an IDF tank destroyed one Hamas observation post along the border, the military said. Two more were targeted following the second attack, according to the IDF.
The military said it was not immediately clear if a bulldozer was hit in the second attack.
The IDF said the vehicles had been working near the border when the gunshots were heard.
The bulldozers had been clearing land in the buffer zone between Israel and the Gaza Strip, which lies on the Gaza side of the border, near the city of Khan Younis.
Palestinian media reported that the Israeli military on Wednesday had also dropped fliers in Arabic, warning Gazan farmers to keep their crops away from the fence.
Wednesday’s attack came amid a relative lull in violence from the Gaza Strip. The day before, senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk announced that Qatar had agreed to continue providing humanitarian aid to the enclave for another year.
Report: 16 killed in strikes attributed to Israel. Syrian state TV alleges that the area bombed has been hit before, is used by Iran as the main route to deliver weapons to Hezbollah, its local militias.
Airstrikes near the Syria-Iraq border early Wednesday targeted sites used for Iran’s nuclear program, a senior US intelligence official told AlJazeera Wednesday.
According to the official, American intelligence was used to execute the strike, which was aimed at a warehouse used to transfer and store advanced nuclear weapons, as well as dispatch materials used in Iran’s nuclear weapons development program.
Syrian state TV attributed to Israel the series of airstrikes that targeted several sites near the Iraqi border, saying that the area bombed has been hit before and is used by Iran as the main route to deliver weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and pro-Iranian militias in Syria.
According to the SANA news agency, the strikes hit the areas of Albu Kamal and Deir ez-Zur. The damage was “still being assessed,” the report said.
The IDF had no comment on the report.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights later said there some 16 people were killed in the raid, adding that at least 18 strikes had targeted bases and other assets used by pro-Iranian militias in the area.
Wednesday strike follows a reported Israeli raid on targets near Damascus, last week.
The IDF has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011, in accordance with Israel’s policy stating it will not allow Iran to establish a military presence near its northern borders. Over the past decade, Tehran has increased its efforts to transport advanced weapons to the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, its primary regional proxy.
Airstrikes, allegedly carried out by Israel, targeted dozens of sites in the Deir al-Zor region of eastern Syria and in Albukamal near the Syria-Iraq border on Tuesday night.
According to the reports, approximately 30 people were killed in the strikes.
The strikes were aimed at dozens of warehouses and sites belonging to pro-Iranian militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) throughout the area, according to local news source Deir EzZor 24.Two residents in the regional capital, Deir al-Zor City, said they could hear the distant sound of huge explosions, apparently from arms depots destroyed in the raids.
The IDF did not immediately comment. Community Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who spoke to KAN Bet, declined to discuss the specific reports but said that Israel hits Iranian targets in Syria “whenever our intelligence dictates it and according to our operational capability.”
While Syrian state media and Iranian media have refrained from reporting on casualties, large numbers of ambulances were reported in the area soon after the strike. Independent reports on the number of casualties ranged between 25 and 50.
Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen news cited a security source in Baghdad who stated that there were no casualties, as the sites that were targeted were evacuated beforehand, but it also reported that ambulances rushed to the scene to transport people who were wounded in the strikes.Regional media described the strikes as some of the largest and most intense in eastern Syria in recent years. Images from the site showed a number of buildings had been completely destroyed.
A regional intelligence source said the targets included Syrian security compounds inside Albukamal and Deir al-Zor, while in the past raids had struck only the cities’ outskirts.
The latest raids were notable for having hit “advanced weaponry and weapons depots… in a large combat arena,” the regional intelligence source said.
According to the Step News Agency, strikes by unidentified aircraft, believed to be affiliated with the international coalition, targeted sites belonging to the IRGC in Albukamal also on Tuesday.
Sites belonging to Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias in the Deir al-Zor area have been hit repeatedly by airstrikes, often by “unidentified aircraft,” in recent years.
The strikes were based on intelligence provided by the United States and were aimed at warehouses storing Iranian weapons and components for Iran’s nuclear program, an American intelligence source told The Associated Press early Wednesday.
The US official, who spoke to AP anonymously, claimed that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the strike with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen during a meeting that the two held in the US capital this week. They were spotted dining on Monday at Cafe Milano in Washington, DC.
INSS director-general and former Military Intelligence head Amos Yadlin tweeted that the strikes served as a reminder to Iran that Israel will not stop fighting to stop Iranian activity in Syria, even during the Biden administration.
The strikes also served to remind Syria that “there is a heavy price for the free hand you give to the Iranians in Syria,” and to remind the incoming Biden administration that the challenge from Iran includes conventional military threats, not just the nuclear issue, added Yadlin.
While it remains unclear whether the strikes had any direct connection to threats by Iran to retaliate against assassinations and attacks blamed on Israel, Yadlin stressed that “in light of the results of the significant strike [on Tuesday night], Iran’s ‘open account’ with Israel will swell.”
This is the third alleged Israeli airstrike reported in Syria in the past three weeks.
Last week, an airstrike targeted locations in southern Syria, and explosions were heard in the skies over Damascus. The strike reportedly targeted weapons depots, observation points and radar sites belonging to the Syrian military and pro-regime militias.
In December, two strikes targeted sites near the Lebanon-Syria border in al-Zabadani and Masyaf.THE AIRSTRIKES come amid the last days of US President Donald Trump’s administration, with some analysts concerned that Israel and the US could try to carry out military action against Iran before the Biden administration enters the White House.
The IDF has reportedly increased air defenses in the Eilat area and remains on alert along the northern border due to concerns that Iran could carry out an attack against Israel from Lebanon, Syria or Yemen. Tensions have been high in light of an alleged Israeli airstrike last year in which a Hezbollah terrorist was killed and the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which Iranian officials accuse Israel of conducting.
Iran also recently marked the one-year anniversary since the assassination of IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, and officials threatened to carry out revenge attacks on American and Israeli targets in the region.
Reuters contributed to this report.