Iran Limits its Plans in Syria, Says Israeli Report
Israel's raids and various military operations in Syria, as well as the economic situation in Iran, prompted Tehran to give up a large part of its plans and limit its objectives in Syria, according to Israeli intelligence sources.
The sources said that Iran did not change its strategic objectives in the region, but it had to “let go” of some of these objectives. At the same time, Tehran increased its expectations in Iraq to overcome the decline of its status in Syria.
The sources told Israel's Maariv newspaper on Thursday that it is possible to see a change in Iran's performance over the past year.
The sources pointed out that the purpose of the Israeli operations during the last year was to cause a crisis in Iran's al-Quds Force based on the estimates that it would damage Tehran’s position in the region.
Moreover, top Israeli intelligence officials believe that the Israeli operations in Syria will slow down the Lebanese Hezbollah’s growing power and the party’s armament with developed weapons.
The newspaper quoted Israeli political officials as saying that tightening US sanctions on Iran will deepen this crisis greatly and will further damage al-Quds Force’s plan in the region.
As Iran’s dream in Syria fades away, it shifted its attention to Iraq, where it has been increasing its influence, drawing Israel’s concern.
Sources in Tel Aviv described the developments on January 20 as a changing point. On that day, Israel carried out a raid on an Iranian position in Syria, prompting the firing of a missile from Syria towards Israel Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights.
Israel responded by launching a large-scale aerial attack against Iranian targets, especially at Damascus International Airport whose very large warehouses were being used by the Quds Force as a logistics center.
The report said that the attack on the airport was the main part of this military operation and a clear message to the Syrians. Although the Israeli air force has attacked Damascus airport in the past, the attack this time was very wide.
Last year’s air force operations in Syria have been the most extensive and continuous since Israel’s creation, perhaps excluding major wars, one Israeli officer was quoted as saying. But both sides have military experience, and it would be an underestimation “for me to say that their performance has not improved.”
"The vast majority of weapons and logistical equipment are being transported from Iran to Syria by air," an Israeli Air Force officer was quoted as saying.
The officer told Maariv that the aim was to target this transport system.
Another air force officer stated that the attack was aimed to send a clear message to Syrian authorities and the regime of Bashar Assad that the damage would not only be inflicted on the Iranians, but would threaten the entire regime.
The officer claimed that in the wake of this aerial military operation, the Israeli army noted that Iranians stopped using the airport.
The logistics center at the facility was badly damaged and most of their activity was transferred to the T4 airport. This transition places difficulties for the Iranians and makes their logistical activity in Syria more complicated.
A third officer claimed that the Syrian regime forces received high-level orders not to target at the aircraft.