Israel is stepping up attacks on Iranian supply lines in Syria to block the flow of arms to Hezbollah and other militias backed by Tehran, as it tries to drive its enemy out of its borders.
in June, Israel attacked a remote compound near the Syrian-Iraqi border, according to a security official, after conducting multiple attacks near his home against alleged Iranian military assets in Syria, where Iran is a key sponsor of the President
Israel, in accordance with its usual practice, neither confirmed nor denied having carried out the June air attack. The United States denied responsibility and a US official confirmed that Israel was behind it.
The strike – carried out in the darkness of the night of June 17 – attacked a villain in the city of al-Hari south of Abu Kamal, the security official told the Wall Street Journal. The Iraqi Shiite militia was working there with the elite of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards to transport Iranian weapons to Syria, the official said.
The strike killed more than 20 fighters from Kata & ibis Hezbollah, an Iraqi Shia militia believed to be transporting weapons to Iran through Iraq in Syria, according to security analysts.
The objective of Israel's attack hundreds of miles from its borders was to point out that it will not tolerate Iranian attempts to establish a so-called land bridge from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, the official said. Israel has said that it is specifically concerned with the dissemination of long-range missiles and anti-aircraft defense systems.
The Iranian army and militias it supports have established bases throughout Iraq and Syria to help fight the Islamic State and groups that oppose Assad, and ally Hezbollah is well entrenched in Lebanon. Israel fears that Tehran's growing territorial control will allow the Islamic Republic to transfer military and personal equipment by road from Iran to the gates of Israel.
Israeli attacks in Syria play a wider conflict in the Middle East, where the Islamic State collapse has led to a power struggle between regional and foreign actors.
The war in Syria is expected to be the center of the talks between the presidents
in Helsinki on Monday. Russia has become the main arbiter of the Syrian conflict through its support, along with Iran, to the Assad regime.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has pledged to withdraw US troops from Syria, possibly this year. However, Trump administration officials also say that one of the objectives of the approximately 2,000 US troops stationed in Syria is to counteract Iranian influence.
Before the possible withdrawal of the United States, Washington's regional allies fear that they will be left without strong support in a war that has transformed from a popular uprising to a game of nations that involve several of the strongest military powers in the world. world.
Israel considers it essential to roll back Iran's territorial expansion before the United States withdraws its forces. June's attack on Israel to the east indicated that urgency. In previous bombings of alleged Iranian assets in recent years, Israel has attacked almost exclusively south and central Syria.
Sheik Abu Talib al-Saeedi, a member of the political office of Kata & ibrah Hezbollah, said the fighters were in Iraqi territory when they were targeted in the June strike. The Iraqi Shia militia that operates inside Syria often denies these movements.
Iraq said that the battered forces were not operating under their command. Kata militia Hezbollah officially responds to the Iraqi government but is in fact loyal to Iran.
Syria and Iran did not respond immediately to requests for comments on the June strike.
Creating a land corridor through Iraq and Syria is a key goal for Iran to strengthen its defense against regional enemies, an IRGC official told the Journal.
Iran transports weapons by air to its regional allies like Lebanese Hezbollah, but those shipments are easier for their enemies to monitor and target, than road shipments that pass through towns and cities along with the commons. Iran already transports some military goods by land, but a safe corridor would allow it to transport material on a larger scale.
While that land bridge has been a concern of many Western and Israeli officials, some are not convinced of its importance. .
"The land bridge may bring threatening material, but it is headed towards a military installation in Syria or towards a key route to Lebanon," said a security analyst observing Syria. "Either way, the IDF can still attack the nodes and the pipeline that Iran uses."
The Israeli attacks against the Iranian positions are part of a double approach of the Israeli Prime Minister
who is also exerting political force to block Iran. Last week, before Monday's summit in Russia, he visited Mr. Putin in Moscow in an attempt to get his help to push Iran-backed forces farther from Israel's northern border.
Mr. Netanyahu also discussed Syria with Mr. Trump on Saturday, he said, adding that the president pledged US support to protect Israel's security interests.
Israeli leaders, however, know that a total withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria is unrealistic and that Russia's influence on Iran is limited, analysts say.
"Russia does not have the inclination or ability to get Iran out of Syria, it does not want to put more boots on the ground and it needs Iranian forces on the ground to win the war," he said.
Director of the Moscow Carnegie Center, an independent think tank. "What is discussed are the parameters of the Iranian presence"
The Russian defense ministry did not respond immediately to a request for comments.
After the meeting with Mr. Putin, Mr. Netanyahu told reporters that Russia had lobbied Iran's Allied Forces "tens of kilometers" from the Israeli-Syrian border, according to Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper.
Iran is diplomatically isolated after seven years of supporting Assad's atrocities and amid the collapse of Iran's nuclear agreement after the United States withdrew, said
an analyst of Iranian origin at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel.
"No one stops Israel, nobody comes to Iran's aid, Iran is very diplomatically vulnerable," Javedanfar said. "There is not a single Arab country that denounces Israeli air strikes."
But Iranian leaders have repeatedly refused to pay attention to US or Israeli threats, and argue that Iran is alone in Syria and Iraq at the invitation of the respective governments. 19659006] "When they say that our military advisors no longer need, Iran will not hesitate to leave."
Ali Akbar Velayati,
a senior adviser to the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah
He said Friday in Moscow after meeting with Mr. Putin.
-Isabel Coles in Baghdad, Anatoly Kurmanaev in Moscow and Nancy A. Youssef in Washington contributed to this article.