The Israeli army has carried out more than 200 air-strikes against Iranian targets in Syria and fired over 800 missiles and mortar shells over the past year and a half, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has revealed, Jerusalem Post reported.
The strikes were meant to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria, and led to the Islamic Republic evacuating several bases in Syria, according to the IDF. The campaign also interrupted Iran’s arms smuggling.
Notwithstanding the accuracy of the strikes, Iran is continuing its military buildup in the region, including transferring ballistic missiles across its border into Iraq.
Reuters reported over the weekend that Iran transferred the missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq over the course of several months, and that it is building missile manufacturing facilities in Iraq and Syria, and training militias to operate the weapons.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman signaled on Monday that Israel could strike suspected Iranian military assets in the region, like it has done in Syria. But the military said that it has not identified the deployment of missiles in Iraq capable of striking Israel.
Israel has repeatedly warned against Syria serving as an Iranian forward operating base or becoming a waystation for arms smuggling to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
According to the IDF, while Hezbollah has gained battlefield experience while fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s seven-year-long civil war, it has lost more than 2,000 fighters and is in a state of economic distress.
Hezbollah is nevertheless working to produce precision missiles but has been unable to do so because of IAF strikes against weapons convoys and facilities in Syria.
The IDF also said it has contributed to the defeat of ISIS as a territorial entity in the Middle East, but warned that the group’s ideology will remain a threat for generations.
The Syrian army, backed by Russian air power and Iran’s Shi’ite militias, has captured large swaths of territory in recent months, and is now believed to control more than 70% of the war-torn country.
While Syrian troops are once again deployed along the border with Israel, Russian military police have been stationed along the Golan Heights border along with UN peacekeepers, in order to prevent an escalation between the two enemy countries.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot will submit a comprehensive and classified report in the coming days to the Security Cabinet on the military’s readiness for war. Earlier this week, he wrote to Liberman stating that the IDF is at a high level of readiness and is prepared for any scenario.
The Syrian news agency SANA reported on Tuesday that Israeli planes targeted military positions in Syria, but that Syrian air defenses confronted and downed some of the rockets.
Citing a military source, SANA said that Israeli aircraft had targeted “our military positions in the provinces of Tartus and Hama. The enemy missiles were dealt with and some of them were shot down.”
The IDF had no response to the story.