Last week, I wrote about the preparations in Israel for military and possibly other action against the Iranian nuclear program. I also reported that Iran is not sitting on its hands and has increased its activities in Syria while also targeting Israel by launching cyberattacks on the Jewish state.
One of Iran’s activities in Syria is cleansing the Syrian Golan Heights and the bordering Daraa Province of Sunni Islamist opponents of the Islamic Republic and the Assad regime. This is done by disarming militias and by offering them so-called ‘reconciliation’ deals.
In reality, these deals have nothing to do with reconciliation but rather with forceful displacement, since most of the opponents of the Assad regime and the Iranian axis in southern Syria are sent to the war-torn northern Idlib Province.
The uprising against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, which began in 2011, started in Daraa city in southern Syria and the rebels there succeeded to hold out against the Syrian army and its Iranian-led allies until recently.
By now it has become clear that Iran has shifted its plan for Syria and abandoned the so-called land bridge from the Iraqi border to the Mediterranean Sea where the Islamic Republic wanted to have a port. The presence of the Russian navy in the Syrian port city of Tartus made this plan impossible, however.
The Iranian plan also included a land bridge to the Israeli border on the Golan Heights and this part of the original plan is still intact.
In eastern Syria, Iran is working hard to increase its influence and has enlisted local (Sunni) tribes for its plan to destroy Israel.
In addition, Iran is increasingly using drones to target military facilities in Syria and Iraq which it dlaims are in use by Israel.
The last Iranian drone attack in Syria took place at the beginning of last week and targeted the al-Tanf base on the Syrian Iraqi border.
The US military later said five Iranian drones were used in the attack but didn’t disclose how the attack was thwarted.
Iran claimed that Israel was using al-Tanf for attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities and on bases in use by the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in both Iraq and Syria.
This was a blatant lie, since a contingent of soldiers of the US Army is stationed at al-Tanf.
The attack was more likely another attempt to drive the US Army out of its last bastion in Syria and to ensure that eastern Syria is free of any Western presence.
Although Israel is still very active in Syria, as we also saw on Saturday afternoon, the Israeli military doesn’t need al-Tanf to carry out sabotage acts against the Iranian nuclear weapons program. That’s the job of Israel’s foreign intelligence service Mossad which is active inside Iran.
When Israel wants to target the Iranian axis in Syria it does so from Israeli soil or from Lebanon’s airspace.
The latest Israeli attack on Iran-related targets in Syria took place on Saturday afternoon when the Israeli military reportedly used surface-to-surface missiles to bomb a weapons convoy that was on its way to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
According to Syria state-controlled media, two missiles were downed by Syria’s air defenses while foreign media and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that five “Iranian militiamen” were killed by the Israeli missiles.
The Russian media outlet Sputnik later confirmed that the Russian-made BUK-M2E anti-missile shield was used by the Syrian army to down the two Israeli missiles.
The Israeli attack on the weapons convoy took place near the town of al-Dimas, situated 20 kilometers west of Damascus and close to the Lebanese border.
The weapons, most likely guided missiles, were bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon, according to Lebanese media.
Observers think that the Israeli military used surface-to-surface missiles in order to avoid friction with the Russian army that safeguards the airspace above the Syrian capital Damascus, and to prevent Hezbollah in Lebanon from reacting.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly warned that an Israeli attack against his organization on Lebanese soil “would not go unanswered.”
Earlier on Saturday, four Israeli F-16 warplanes carried out strikes against “Syria’s air defenses,” Russian media reported.
This report could not be verified independently, but there was indeed unusual activity in the airspace above the Golan Heights during the day on Shabbat (Saturday, the Jewish day of rest) and the targets could also have been the air-defense batteries that Iran recently transferred to Syria.
There was yet another unusual event that took place on Saturday.
An American B1-1b bomber, accompanied by Israeli F-15 fighter jets, was spotted in the skies above Tel Aviv.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, the unusual flight was to show the continuing operational cooperation between the American and the Israeli military.
However, it was clear that the flight of the B1-1b bomber escorted by Israeli warplanes on its way to the Gulf region was meant as a signal to Iran.
The American warplane is able to carry the bunker busters that would be needed to penetrate Iran’s underground nuclear facilities.
Iran and Israel are also involved in psychological warfare by means of mutual cyber-attacks.
Last week Iran accused Israel and the US of launching a nationwide cyberattack on Iranian gas stations.
The attack on the online payment system of the gas stations left millions of Iranian drivers without fuel, but did not generate the usual mass protests against the regime of President Ibrahim Raisi.
Iranian hackers subsequently carried out a cyberattack on a number of servers in Israel and disrupted the services of a number of Israeli companies.
Media said the group of Iranian hackers (called Black Shadow) was driven by financial motives, but Israeli cyber-security experts begged to differ and claimed the Iranian regime was behind the attack. The goal was to humiliate and harm Israeli companies, the experts said.
Israel has now started a week-long drill to prepare for war with Hezbollah.
The drill includes simulation of huge missile barrages (2,000 per day) and the evacuation of residents in northern Israeli towns and communities.
Reviewing the list of elements of the drill, which also includes the testing of a new siren system across the north of Israel including the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley, one cannot escape the idea that the drill is part of the preparations for a multi-front war with the Iranian axis.