July 12, 2018
- Iran injected its Revolutionary Guards forces into Syria, where they proceeded to build drone, missile, and infantry bases. Iran hoped to set up naval and air force bases on Syrian soil as well, in addition to flooding the country with missile launchers and terrorist cells that would assault Israel in the future.
- In response, Israel relied on advanced intelligence, combined with precision firepower, to destroy Iran’s budding military presence in Syria.
- In an effort to deter Israel from continuing with its campaign against Tehran’s military presence in Syria, Iran decided to use its own forces to directly attack Israel, using drones and truck-mounted mobile rocket launchers.
- This resulted in a resounding defeat for Iran when, on May 10, the Israel Defense Forces destroyed more than 50 Iranian military targets scattered across Syria. Israeli air defenses also successfully dealt with an Iranian rocket barrage over the Golan Heights.
- Tehran has not given up. It has merely switched tactics, seeking to establish a foothold in Syria while relying more on its militias. But Israel’s defensive campaign appears to be responding. In mid-June, according to media reports, Israel conducted a major airstrike on a military base housing an Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite militia in eastern Syria, killing dozens of militia members. In July, a blast rocked an arms depot belonging to an Iran-backed militia in Daraa, in southern Syria.
- Israel takes a calculated risk every time it pursues its “active defense” campaign in Syria. But the risk of not acting, and allowing the Iranian axis to build up its force freely, is far greater. Israel’s actions serve to continually remind Iran of Israel’s own evolving capabilities, thereby replenishing Israeli deterrence and keeping full-scale war at bay.
The writer is a research associate at the BESA Center.