A single mystery missile, which could have been fired from the ground or the air early Wednesday morning, June 7, wiped out the entire top Islamic State command on the Syrian Golan, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report. All 16 officers of the 2,000-strong Khaled Ibn al Waleed army, the ISIS operations arm on the Syrian Golan, were present in the targeted building in the town of al-Shagara, located in the triangle where the Israeli, Syrian and Jordanian borders meet opposite the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.
The unidentified missile blew up in the middle of a hall where the top command echelon were gathered to break their daily fast during the month of Ramadan and draw up plans. None of them survived.
Among them were the group’s chief, Gen. Abu Mohammed al-Makdessi; commander of operations, Gen. Abu Udai al-Homsi; and the group’s explosives expert who doubled as its religious leader, Abu Ali Shabat.
They operated under these aliases to conceal their real identities as former high Iraqi army officers who served in the late Saddam Hussein’s armed forces. They were also in senior command positions at the ISIS Syrian command center in Raqqa, when ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi decided to transfer them to the Syrian Golan to spearhead attacks that were planned to take place inside Israel and Jordan.
It took Al-Baghdad just a few hours to replace Magdessi as Khaled Ibn al-Waleed chief with a new man, Mohamed al-Refaei-Abu Hshem al-Askari.
On Tuesday, June 6, the day before the mysterious missile decapitated the Islamic State’s Golan force, US warplanes acted on another front to bomb a convoy of Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah forces that were traveling eastward from the southern town of Derra in the direction of the Al-Tanf border crossing.
Al Tanf, where US and Jordanian special forces units have established a garrison, is located in the triangle where the Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi borders converge. The US planes destroyed several tanks, troop carriers, artillery pieces and antiaircraft systems, causing also fatalities and injuries, and so halted the convoy’s advance on the strategic crossing.
This was the second US air strike in three weeks on a similar target. The first was on May 18.
debkafile’s military sources report concerns in the US military worry lest Iranian general Qassem Soleimani decides to drop a division of Iranian special forces by helicopter, in order to catch the garrison off guard and capture the border crossing.
This concern increased after the Islamic State conducted a surprise bombing-cum-shooting attack on prize Iranian regime targets in Tehran on June 7. The Revolutionary Guards are bent on revenge and looking for an outstanding military success to cover this humiliation.
The US commanders are also under pressure on another score: the Iranians and Syrians have sent secret messages to Moscow complaining bitterly about the US air strike. They both made it clear that they command sufficient air and artillery fire power to overwhelm and wipe the ground with the American force in Syria. Both Damascus and Tehran appear to be spoiling for a major showdown between their armies, using Hizballah and other Shiite proxies, and the US-led contingent.