Israeli Army exposes Iranian bases in Syria

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) yesterday published photographs and information about the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) deployment in Syria, as well as assessments about a planned attack on Israel.

The photographs included aerial photos of an Iranian drone base in Deir ez-Zor, in which Ilyushin cargo planes used to transport weapons from Iran to Syria can be seen. They show the IRGC’s elite Quds Force receiving surface-to-surface missiles, equipment for its air force including drones and air defence systems.

A map was also published with approximate locations of five bases controlled by Iranian forces – the Damascus International Airport, the Sayqal airbase, the T–4 airbase, an airfield near Aleppo and a base in Deir ez-Zor.

Military analysts have interpreted the publication as a clear message to Iran that Israel possesses detailed information about the precise location of Iranian forces and what they are doing in Syria. Roni Daniel, Military Editor for Israeli television station Mako, said the disclosure was a signal to Iran that its deployments in Syria “are totally exposed to us, and if you take action against us to avenge [the recent strikes on T-4 military base attributed to Israel] these targets will be very severely harmed”.

Writing in Haaretz, Amos Harel said: “It is possible to surmise that there are two messages Israel is sending to Iran. The first: We are determined to continue to confront you if you decide to expand your military in Syria. And the second: Your military is transparent to Israeli intelligence and is therefore very exposed to additional attacks. We must assume that the decision-makers in Tehran are aware of the risks involved in a direct confrontation with Israel … still, the regular assessment, in which Israel has for years been only a two or three mutual mistakes away from a war in the north, seems truer than ever this week.”

A senior IDF source told Sky News Arabic yesterday: “Israel will respond powerfully to any Iranian operation from within Syria.” He added that Israel believes Iran is planning to attack Israel from Syria in response to the bombing of the T-4 base in Syria, in which 15 Iranian soldiers are believed to have been killed. Israeli Army Radio reported that, in light of the current situation, the Israeli Air Force has cancelled plans to send F-15 fighter jets to take part in the US-hosted exercise Red Flag, which begins on 30 April.

BICOM published a briefing on 12 March with details and locations of 10 Iranian military bases in Syria. The paper also included an assessment of the role of Shia militias in the Syrian civil war.