Skip to main content

Israel, Iran duel on Syrian soil

The growing presence of Iran in Syria, combined with attacks against a missile plant and a base for Iranian forces, indicate that Israel and Iran are practically already at war.
An Israeli F15 fighter jet takes off during a joint international aerial training exercise hosted by Israel and dubbed "Blue Flag 2017" at Ovda military air base in southern Israel November 8, 2017. Picture taken November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen - RC1A3ED51600

On Nov. 15, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted: "I just completed a two-day visit along the northern front. We will not allow Shiite Iran to establish itself in Syria, and we will not allow it to transform Syria into an advance position against Israel. Anyone who doesn't understand this, should."

On the night between Dec. 1 and 2, unidentified aircraft bombed a military base about 14 kilometers (9 miles) southwest of Damascus while it was undergoing renovations. On Nov. 11, just four days before Liberman's tweet, the BBC released satellite images as evidence of the extensive construction and renovations underway at the base that was later bombed. According to the British news service, the base was planned to house troops and weaponry. Western intelligence sources added that these would be fighters from the Shiite militias inspired by Iran, who have operated in Syria over the last few years during the civil war there. In other words, this would be the first time that the long arm of Iran was about to hunker down in a permanent military base on the outskirts of Damascus, within mortar range of the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.