21st Century Wire says…
The Syrian conflict continues to develop into a proxy war, pitting various foreign ‘national interests’ against one another, including Iran vs. Israel.
Israel launched its sixth airstrike inside Syria in last 18 months, in what the local media are describing as a ‘targeted killing’ carried out Sunday, killing at least 6 members of Hezbollah and the al Quds Iranian Guard who were fighting ISIS, al Nusra and other terrorist organizations operating in Syria.
Among those killed in the missile attack was Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the former Hezbollah head, Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated by the IDF in Damascus in 2008.
Local media reported that a car with six men on board was en route from Lebanon to Syria when its occupants were killed by a US-made Israeli helicopter.
The Israel raid took place near the Syrian city of Al Quneitra (see map below) near the Golan Heights region. Israel has long sought to forcibly annex Syria’s Golan Heights area and past aggression by Israel forced the UN to intervene by passing UN Resolution 497 in 1981, and placing a UNIFIL international peacekeeping force there until recently, when they were driven out of their position by Jabhat al Nusra terrorist fighters who received strategic, financial and military backing from Israel’s IDF.
Back in Sept., Israel used its IDF Patriot Missile battery to provide air cover to ISIS in the Golan Heights, to shoot down a Syrian MIG21, allegedly because it “violated Israeli airspace”, but the Israeli move aided ISIS in its advance through the area.
In addition, according to Fars News Agency, also killed in the Israeli attack inside Syria was an Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander, Mohammad-Ali Allahdadi, who was fighting alongside Damascus’s anti-ISIS coalition.
— H.Soleimani (@MashreghNews_ir) January 18, 2015
Lebanon’s Shi’ite-oriented Hezbollah militia force is traditionally backed by Iran. In 2013, the group made it publicly known that they were fighting alongside the Syrian army in order to repel US and Saudi-backed Salafist terrorist groups and other western-backed foreign Islamist militants who have been gradually flooding into Syria since 2011, as part of the Washington-Riyadh-Tel Aviv Axis powers in their plan to topple the al Assad government in Damascus.
Hezbollah has vowed retaliation for Sunday’s Israeli attack. Previously, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (image above) said how an Israeli attack in Syria is equivalent to an attack on Lebanon itself. It’s believed by Hezbollah that Sunday’s strike was the first of many intentional military provocations by Israel, who hope to draw out Hezbollah into a wider conflict, and thus helping ISIS, al Nusra and Washington’s “moderate rebel” FSA forces to over-run the Assad government and his forces in Syria. It is doubtful however, that Hezbollah will respond any time soon, or open a new military front against Israel in South Lebanon, not least of all because of key domestic Lebanese ‘reconciliation’ talks currently underway across political and religious lines in the country.
Sunday’s attack raises more questions about Israel’s military role in the Syrian conflict, and why they would be providing air cover and official military support to ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups fighting against the Syrian Army and its allies.
As 21WIRE reported back in December after its previous Israeli attack in Syria, contrary to popular belief, Israel is very much involved in the destabilization of Syria, and providing direct support to ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups operating inside Syria.
Under direct pressure from the US, UN Security Council members do not appear to be willing to suggest sanctions, or hold Israel responsible in any way for any its repeated attacks against its neighbors, for fear of what misfortunes and diplomatic difficulties might befall them. As a result, Israel has been acting with impunity in the region. Since 2006, Israel has conducted several air strikes on Syria. Below is a description of those attacks:
Al Quneitra (18 January 2015) – Missile attack near the Golan Heights, killing 6 Hezbollah and Iranian anti-ISIS soldiers, including one al Quds commander.
Damascus and Dimas attack (7 December 2014) – Alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria against a warehouse of advanced S-300 missiles, which were en route to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Missile Strike at Golan Heights (23 September 2014) – IDF Patriot Missile battery shot down a Syrian MIG21, allegedly because it violated Israeli airspace.
Beqaa Valley airstrike (24 February 2014) – Two airstrikes against an alleged Hezbollah missile base in Lebanon near the border with Syria.
2nd Latakia attack (26 January 2014) – Alleged Israeli airstrike against a Syrian warehouse of S-300 missiles.
Snawbar airstrike (30 October 2013) – Alleged Israeli airstrike at an air defense site in Snawbar.
Latakia explosion (5 July 2013) – Alleged Israeli airstrike on a Syrian depot containing Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles.
Airstrikes on Syria (3-5 May 2013) – Airstrikes on Syria against alleged long-ranged weapons sent from Iran to Hezbollah.
Jamraya airstrike (30 January 2013) – Alleged Israeli airstrike on a Syrian convoy allegedly transporting weapons to Hezbollah. Other sources stated the targeted site was a military research center in Jamraya responsible for developing biological and chemical weapons.
Operation Orchard (6 September 2007) Israeli airstrike on a ‘suspected’ nuclear reactor in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria. The Israeli and U.S. governments imposed virtually total news blackouts immediately after the raid that held for seven months.
Ain es Saheb airstrike (5 October 2003) – Israeli Air Force operation against an alleged Palestinian militant training camp in Ain es Saheb, Syria.
Additionally, Israel has attacked Lebanon repeatedly, most notably in 2006 when it slaughtered some 1,500 Lebanoese civilians during it’s indiscriminate bombing raids hitting residential areas and targeting ‘infrastructure’ in neighboring Lebanon:
Operation Just Reward (12 July – 14 August 2006) – Israeli counterattack which began with air force bombing of Hezbollah positions in Southern Lebanon. Israel attacked Lebanon in this bloody siege which ended with 1,191 Lebanese dead in total (including combatants and foreign civilians in Lebanon) with over 4,000 injured. The IDF lost only 121 soldiers, and Israeli civilians said to have died were 43.
Homeland Security News Wire
Israeli helicopter on Sunday fired missiles at a 3-car convoy near the village of Mazrat al-Amal on the outskirts of Quneitra. The convoy was traveling inside Syria, two or three miles from the Israeli border, carrying Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of former Hezbollah military leader Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed by Israel in February 2008. In all, twelve people – six Hezbollah members and six Iranian military commanders and soldiers — were killed in the attack, in addition to Mughnyyeh. They include two Hezbollah officers — field commander Mohammad Issa, who goes by the nom de guerre “Abu Issa,” and Ismail al-Ashhab – and Abu Ali al-Tabtabai, also known as “Abu Ali Reza,” the Iranian Commander in the Syrian Golan Heights.
Iranian news outlets earlier today reported that, in all, six Iranian officers were killed in the attack, including Gen. Ali Allah-De’adi, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard officer who was a military adviser to the Assad regime.
Hezbollah said in a statement that its men were on a field reconnaissance mission in Quneitra. Lebanon’s MTV network reported that the Hezbollah officers were in the area to prepare to launch rockets at Israeli targets on the Golan Heights.
In the last year, Hezbollah, on instructions from Iran, has launched several attacks on Israel in response to Israeli attacks on Assad regime’s targets, including arms depots and military convoys, involved in attempts to deliver advanced weapon systems to Hezbollah.
One of the most recent Israeli attacks was the first to destroy targets inside Lebanon (see “Israeli jets attack Syrian weapons convoys in Hezbollah-held area in Lebanon,” HSNW, 25 February 2014).
Israeli government and military would not comment on Sunday attack, in keeping with Israel’s previous refusal to comment on attacks inside Syria. Haaretz reports that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon refused to address the attack directly.
“Every time something happens in the region, we are blamed,” he told Kol Hai Radio. “I have no interest in addressing this. We have heard [Hezbollah’s leader] Hassan Nasrallah’s speech last week. He denied the presence of Hezbollah operatives in the Golan. If this is true, has some explaining to do.”
The strike on the convoy comes three days after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in a TV interview from the bunker where he has been hiding since the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, said he considered Israeli strikes on targets inside Syria as acts of major aggression, and that Syria — that is, the Assad regime — and its allies had the right to respond.
The Assad regime and Hezbollah are Iran’s two most important regional allies, and since the spring of 2013, thousands of Hezbollah fighters have been sent to Syria on Iran’s orders to fight alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces. The Assad forces were in retreat at the time, but Hezbollah’s involvement, and increased Iranian military assistance, have helped to strengthen Assad’s holds on areas around Damascus and in northwest Syria.
Jihad Mughniyeh, who was in his mid-20s, was appointed in October last year to head Hezbollah’s Golan division. Haaretz notes that this information was released by Syrian opposition groups, not by Hezbollah. Mohad Razlan, a senior official in the Syrian National Council, a coalition of moderate Syrian opposition groups, said at the time that the appointment signaled Hezbollah’s decision to expand its operations in the Golan. London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Arabiya reported that Mughniyeh was close to influential Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.
The latest Israeli attacks inside Syria against Hezbollah-bound arms occurred last month, when Israeli jets bombed targets near Damascus International Airport and in the town of Dimas, north of Damascus and near the Lebanese border. News reports said that the Israeli air force flew at least ten sorties over Dimas and attacked several military targets.
Imad Mughniyeh was killed by Israeli agents on 12 February 2008, when his jeep blew up outside his home in Damascus. The killing of Mughniyeh was one of Israel’s most demanding, and impressive, covert operations. Mughniyeh was always meticulous about secrecy and personal security, and the only available photo of him was more than two decades old. In addition, his role in building Hezbollah into an effective military organization made him one of Iran’s and Syria’s most important regional assets, and the Assads, both father and son, built around him one of the tightest and most impregnable security envelope.
The search for him by Israel’s Mosad was long, and the operational environment extremely difficult, but in the end the Mosad succeeded in taking him out.
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