An unusual IDF communique Tuesday, April 17, divulged details of Iran’s UAV bases in Syria and named their commanders, while the threats traded between them gained volume. These disclosures and their tone stood in marked contrast to the Israeli government and security chiefs’ strange silence and passive acquiescence to Tehran’s steady buildup of its military assets in Syria during the past two years. The information now released, much of it available to DEBKA’s readers in the past, attests to the growing conviction among Israel’s strategic leaders that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) are on the point of a military operation to punish Israel for its April 9 air attack on the SyrianT-4 airbase, which left eight IRGC aerospace officers dead, including Col. Mehdi Dehgan Yazdeli. The IDF is finally leveling on the threat so as to prepare the Israeli public for what looks like an inevitable military clash with Iran.
A leak to the New York Times and Israeli media on Monday incorrectly defined the T-4 strike as Israel’s first live attack on Iranian commanders. In fact, the Israeli air force struck a group of Iranian commanders on a secret visit to Quneitra opposite Israel’s Golan border on Jan. 18, 2015, killing two Iranian generals, Mohammad Ali Allah Dadi and Abu Ali al-Tabtabani. And in the following year, on July 26, an Israeli rocket attack aimed at and missed another secret visitor to Quneitra, Iranian Gen. Mohammad-Reza Naghdi.
For now, DEBKAfile can report:
- Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani is leading the preparations for the first direct Iranian assault on Israel, not just by proxy. Soleimani is the overall commander of Iran’s Middle East warfronts.
- Iranian air force units in Syria are gearing up for the attack.
- Military Il-76 freight planes, disguised as Iranian Simorgh Air and Pouya Air commercial flights, are ferrying military equipment into Syria.
- The IRGC air fleet is spread out in four Syrian bases outside Aleppo, Saiqal, Damascus and T-4 near Homs.