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Israel prepares for Iranian retaliation over Syria air strike

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The Israeli armed forces are on high alert in readiness for an expected Iranian response to Israel’s reported airstrike on the T-4 base in Syria in which Iranian personnel were killed. Seven members of Iran’s IRGC Quds Force were killed in the attack on 9 April, including the commander of the drone unit, Colonel Mehdi Dehghan.

Iran took the unusual step of releasing details of Iranian personnel who were killed and Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi appeared to confirm Iranian plans for a response, saying: “The Zionist entity will receive an appropriate response sooner or later and they will regret what they did.” The Iranian state news agency Mehr recently quoted Iranian ground forces commander Brig. Gen. Kiumars Heidari as saying Iran’s armed forces “are much more powerful than before” and that “the date has been set” for Israel’s destruction.

Israeli officials last week declined to comment on reports that the attack was carried out by the Israeli Air Force. However, an article by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times published on Sunday included a quote, attributed to a senior IDF officer, confirming that Israel was responsible for the airstrike. The officer said it was “the first time we attacked live Iranian targets—both facilities and people”. The IDF had apparently asked the New York Times to remove the quote from the article. Yesterday, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Walla News that Israel “will not allow Iranian consolidation in Syria,” but was only concerned with Israel’s direct security interests and not “Syria’s internal affairs”.

Lieberman also highlighted the Hezbollah and Hamas reliance on Iranian support, warning Hamas that Israel will not allow Gaza to become an “Iranian base”.