ANALYSIS: Iran's endgame in Syria has begun

Only change in Iran's bid to form land bridge from Iran to Israeli border is switch to Syrian uniforms by Hezbollah terrorists.

Yochanan Visser,

Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards
Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards

Yochanan Visser is an independent journalist/analyst who worked for many years as Middle East correspondent for Western in Arizona and was a frequent publicist for the main Dutch paper De Volkskrant. He authored a book in the Dutch language about the cognitive war against Israel and now lives in Gush Etzion. He writes a twice weekly analysis of current issues for Arutz Sheva.

Iran’s attempts to build a permanent military infrastructure in Syria continue, while Israel extended its operations against the Iranian axis in Syria all the way to the Iraqi border this week.

At the same time, the Iranian-backed pro-Assad coalition finally launched the long anticipated offensive against rebel groups along the Jordanian and Israeli border, despite Israeli and American warnings that this could lead to a confrontation with the two staunch allies.

On Monday, the Israeli air force carried out a devastating attack on the Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah militia which has set up a base across the Iraqi border in Syria.

Israeli warplanes reportedly struck Kata’ib Hezbollah in the Al-Hari military base near the town of Qaim in the vicinity of the Albu Kamal border crossing, killing 52 members of the Iraqi militia which is an important member of the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi umbrella organization of predominantly Shiite militias in Iraq.

Kata’ib Hezbollah is now part of a 80,000 members-strong Shiite fighting force in Syria which takes its orders from Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the shrewd commander of the elite Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The Iraqi militia has been more than instrumental in the Iranian effort to establish a ‘Shiite Crescent’ - territorial contiguity from the Iranian border in Iraq to the Israeli border on the Golan Heights. It was responsible for many lethal attacks against U.S. forces and the Sunni population in Iraq.

At the end of last year, Kata’ib Hezbollah threatened the U.S. led coalition in Iraq and said it would “fight the American occupiers” this after it cooperated with the coalition in the fight against the common enemy, Islamic State.

The ruthless Shiite terror group was together with its offshoot Harakat al Nujaba, or Movement of the Noble, responsible for the establishment of the ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’ which was founded in March 2017 with the explicit goal of ‘liberating Palestine’.

The IDF refused to comment on the attack on Kata’ib Hezbollah, but a US official confirmed Israel was responsible for the attack on the Iranian proxy in Syria.

On Tuesday night, the Iranian-backed pro-Assad coalition also made good on its promise, ‘liberating’ every inch of Syrian soil and starting a long anticipated offensive against Western-backed rebels in the Daraa province in southern Syria.

Syrian Special Forces attacked towns near the Jordanian border with more than 130 artillery shells and missiles, while Hezbollah drove a wedge in the rebel’ defenses in the so-called ‘Triangle of Death’, the region stretching from the border between Daraa and Kuneitra and the west Damascus countryside.

The Lebanese terror group reportedly used napalm to drive the rebels out of the Triangle of Death, while the now united rebel groups operating under the name “Southern Front” reacted by attacking a large convoy of the pro-Assad coalition in western Daraa.

The Iranian-backed pro-Assad coalition exploited the disagreement over Iran’s encroachment on the Jordanian and Israeli border between Russia on one hand and the United States, Great Britain and Israel on the other hand, to start the assault on the mostly Sunni Islamist rebels along the border.

The Syrian Observer reported on Thursday that the Russians are the ones in charge of the military operations in Daraa.

This doesn’t mean Israel will remain passive..

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has used his leverage in the relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump to prevent the approaching Iranian axis from taking over the region along the Syrian border on the Golan Heights, but it remains to be seen if his efforts will bear fruit.

The Russians have called upon ‘foreign troops’ - including the Iranians - to leave Syrian soil now the war against ISIS is almost over.

The Iranians, however, have made it clear they have no intention of heeding that call and have vowed to stay in Syria as long as their Syrian lackey Bashar al-Assad wants them to stay.

The only thing that has changed in the Iranian advance toward the realization of the final stretch of the land bridge from the Iranian border in Iraq to the Israeli border on the Golan Heights is the change of uniforms.

About 500 Hezbollah terrorists and members of Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Syria are now wearing uniforms of the Syrian Army’s Tiger Forces, a special unit which specializes in urban warfare and counter-terrorism operations.

They are now charged with the ‘liberation’ of the Kuneitra region along the Israeli border.

The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, reacted to the worrisome situation near Israel’s border by issuing a statement which said it was “deeply troubled by reports of increasing Syrian regime operations in southwest Syria”.

The State Department also warned the Russians and the Assad regime again of “serious repercussions” of the violations of the so-called de-escalation agreement between the U.S., Jordan and Russia which was meant to retain the status quo along the Syrian border with Jordan and Israel.

An attempt by the Iranian axis to take over the region along the Israeli border on the Golan Heights will almost certainly draw a military response by the IDF and could risk a spillover of the Syrian conflict into Israel.