The Israeli Air Force is once again bombing targets in Syria amid growing turbulence in the Greater Middle East.
Early on November 18, the Israeli Air Force conducted a series of strikes on targets in Syria. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that the strikes hit “warehouses, command posts and military complexes, and batteries of surface-to-air missiles” belonging to the Syrian Army and the Iranian Quds Force. In total, the strikes reportedly hit 8 targets including the following:
an alleged Iranian military complex near Damascus International Airport;
some mysterious secret military barracks which act as a housing complex for senior Iranian officials as well as visiting delegations;
a command post for Division 7 of the Syrian Army which allegedly cooperates with the Quds Force;
surface-to-air missile launchers which had fired in the direction of the Israeli jets during the strikes.
The Israeli side claimed that the strikes came in response to the placement of explosive charges near the contact line between the Israeli-controlled part of the Golan Heights and Syrian-controlled territory. According to IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman, the anti-personnel mines discovered on November 17th were actually planted several weeks before “by local Syrians under the command of Iranian Quds Force.”
“We have long been prepared for the possibility of terror attacks in the northern sector,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said commenting on the attack. “The IDF has the capabilities and the determination to respond severely to any incident both on the Lebanese and Syrian fronts… I say clearly: Syria is responsible for what occurs on its territory.”
In their turn, the Syrian state media reported that the Syrian military had activated its air defense forces in response to the Israeli aggression claiming that a number of missiles were intercepted. According to the Syrian Ministry of Defense, three service members were killed and another one was injured as a result of the strikes. Sources loyal to Israel and militant groups operating in Syria claim that at least 10 Iranian-backed fighters were killed.
Israel justifies its recent attack on Syria with the need to respond to Iranian-backed ‘terror plots’. A more realistic version would be that Tel Aviv, concerned by the reported loss of Donald Trump in the US presidential election, has been trying to exploit the potential last months of the Trump administration’s unconditional support to deliver as much damage as possible to its regional opponents.
Meanwhile, according to reports in US mainstream media, Mr. Donald Trump, well known for his hardcore pro-Israeli stance, is now even considering a plan of strikes on Iranian nuclear objects before he possibly leaves office.
Trump reportedly requested his top aides to provide him with “options” for attacking Iran’s main nuclear site, Natanz, as Iran continues to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium as a part of its gradual withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, which the Trump administration had itself destroyed by unilaterally withdrawing from it. The main options, according to reports, are, as always, an old-school cruise missile strike or a massive cyber-attack. The Iranian leadership has already promised a ‘crushing response’ to any kind of aggression. And there can be little doubt that Iran, which already has the experience of shooting down US military drones over the Persian Gulf and launching ballistic missiles at US bases in Iraq, would turn its promises into reality.
Especially if Mr. Trump is not able to challenge the outcome of the presidential election successfully in court and is forced to accept his loss, it does not look like the last months of the Trump administration are going to be marked by any kind of calm on the international scene.