In the undeclared war between Iran and Israel, the rules are simple: The duelists are masked, they fight in the shadows and their main weapon is the element of surprise.
Wednesday night, Oct. 24, four unidentified bombers raided the Yarmouk Industrial Complex-YIC near Khartoum to extinction and vanished. Sudanese spokesmen were cagey about the damage or its target – only accusing Israel of the deed.
That night, an Iranian military plane carried a high-ranking military delegation to the Sudanese capital. The Sudanese chief of staff, Gen. Ismat Abdel Rahman escorted the visitors in a tightly-secured convoy of armored vehicles with helicopter cover directly to the wrecked Yarmouk Industrial Complex.
This complex, established in 1994 and inaugurated in 1996, claimed to be engaged in the processing and manufacturing of dual-purpose products for the Sudanese army’s construction, transport and manufacturing industries.
But it turned out, as debkafile was the first publication to reveal Wednesday night, that the complex had recently been converted to the manufacture, under license from Tehran, of Iranian Shehab surface-to-surface ballistic and Grad short-range missiles. The weapons would be stored to provide Iran with a strategic ballistic reserve in times of war. They would be available to replenish Iran’s ballistic arsenal if it were damaged in an Israeli air strike, and furnish the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah with ballistic missiles in a war contingency.
Iranian generals to probe capabilities of attacking jets
The air raid, according to our military sources, wiped out the missile stock as well as the factory and its equipment. Video shots of the explosions showed the substantial presence of phosphorus.
Western and Arab intelligence sources disclosed that two Iranian teams of missile launchers had recently arrived in Sudan. They could not confirm a deal had been struck between Khartoum and Tehran for Iran to shoot missiles from Sudanese soil at Middle East targets, with the Sudanese army receiving some of the missiles as a commission; or whether the Iranians had come to teach Sudanese units how to handle the missiles.
That Tehran was extremely troubled by the loss of the Yarmouk complex was indicated by the star-studded delegation sent post-haste to Khartoum.
It consisted of Iranian Air Force Chief Brig. Gen. Hassan Shah-Safi, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Forces Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Deputy Air Force Commander Brig. Gen. Aziz Nasirzadeh, and Commander of Iran's Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili.
They will conduct a professional inquiry to study the air force capabilities of the bombers which attacked the factory.
Another round in the shadowy Iran-Israel battle of wits
If it was indeed the work of the Israeli Air Force, the bombers would have had to cover 1,800-1,900 kilometers to target, which is farther than the 1,600 kilometers between Israel and Iran’s enrichment plants at Fordo and Natanz – and refuel in flight.
Knowledge of the top-secret manufacturing plant attested to deep intelligence penetration of the Iranian military.
The visiting Iranian generals will hunt for any clues in the wreckage and the type of attack which may lead them to uncovering the source of the information necessary to make the plant’s destruction possible.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources do not doubt that if Israel was behind the attack, it was in response to the Iranian stealth drone which infiltrated its airspace on Oct. 6, and filmed its most sensitive strategic sites including the nuclear reactor in Dimona.
This episode was not the last in the shadowy duel between Israel and Iran. Like the Khartoum raid, no one took responsibility for the sabotage on Aug. 17 of the high-tension lines that supply electricity to the underground enrichment plant in Fordo, an attack the Iranians attributed to Israel.
And Iran is not about to confess to the cyber attack reported Thursday, Oct. 25, to be lurking for the Israeli police computer network.