Israeli jets hit Iranian Quds Force in Syria

The air strikes were in retaliation to the discovery of three claymore anti-personnel charges near an Israeli military position in the Golan Heights, above. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 19 November 2020

Israeli jets hit Iranian Quds Force in Syria

  • 10 dead in wave of airstrikes from Golan Heights to Damascus

JEDDAH: At least 10 people died in a wave of Israeli airstrikes on Wednesday against Iranian targets in Syria.
Fighter jets pounded installations operated by the Quds Force, the elite overseas unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and by the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia.
The dead included five Iranians from the Quds Force and at least two militiamen, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the war monitor in the UK.
Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said eight targets were hit in areas stretching from the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights to the outskirts of Damascus.
They included an Iranian headquarters at Damascus international airport, a “secret military site” that hosted Iranian military delegations, and the 7th Division of the Syrian armed forces, he said. Syrian surface-to-air defenses were also hit after firing at Israeli planes and missiles.
Israel has regularly attacked Iranian-linked targets in Syria in recent years, but has stepped up strikes this year in what Western intelligence sources describe as a shadow war to reduce Iran’s influence.
But Wednesday’s attacks struck a far wider range of targets than usual, and the Israeli military was more forthcoming about the details than in the past, suggesting a clear aim to send a public message about Iranian involvement in Syria.
Israel said it was retaliating for an Iranian-sponsored operation in which Syrians planted explosives near an Israeli military base in the occupied Golan Heights.
The Quds Force is responsible for supporting Tehran’s allies in proxy conflicts across the Middle East, coordinating Shiite militia fighters in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere.
The Assad regime has never admitted that Iranian forces operate on its behalf in Syria, only that Tehran has sent military advisers. Western intelligence sources say Israeli strikes have undermined Iran’s military power in Syria without triggering a major increase in hostilities.

Israeli missions on alert after Iranian threats of retaliation

Updated 29 November 2020

Israeli missions on alert after Iranian threats of retaliation

  • UN urges restraint as Tehran vows revenge for slain nuclear scientist

TEHRAN/JERUSALEM: Israel put its embassies around the world on high alert on Saturday after Iranian threats of retaliation following the killing of a nuclear scientist near Tehran, Israeli N12 news reported on Saturday.

Iran has blamed Israel for the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who died on Friday after gunmen ambushed him in his car.

Iran’s supreme leader demanded the “definitive punishment” of those behind the killing that has raised fears of reignited tensions across the Middle East.

After years of being in the shadows, the image of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh suddenly was to be seen everywhere in Iranian media, as his widow spoke on state television. “He wanted to get martyred and his wish came true,” she said.

In Tehran, a small group of hard-line protesters burned images of President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden, who has said his administration will consider reentering Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. And while burning an American and Israeli flag, the hard-liners criticized Iran’s foreign minister who helped negotiate the nuclear deal, showing the challenge ahead of Tehran if officials chose to come back the accord.

The UN called for keeping restraint and avoiding the escalation of tensions in the Middle East, the deputy spokesman for the UN secretary-general said. “We urge restraint and the need to avoid any actions that could lead to an escalation of tensions in the region,” Farhan Haq said.

Germany called on all parties “to avoid taking any action which could lead to a new escalation of the situation” which “we absolutely do not need at this moment.”

Hours after the attack, the Pentagon announced it had brought the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier back into the Middle East, an unusual move as the carrier already spent months in the region.

Analysts have compared Fakhrizadeh to being on par with Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who led America’s Manhattan Project in World War II that created the atom bomb.

Fakhrizadeh headed Iran’s so-called AMAD program that Israel and the West have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that the “structured program” ended in 2003. Iran long has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful.