Russia steps into Israel’s shadow war on Iran
Two new operations have revved up Israel’s shadow war on Iran; striking at its nuclear/ballistic program as well as smashing its corridor through Iraq for arming proxy Shiite militias in Syria.
The first occurred on Saturday, Jan 28, when an estimated three quadcopters with bomblets (see photo) smashed into “an advanced weapons plant” in Isfahan, demonstrating the deep and detailed penetration Israel’s intelligence has achieved for sabotaging Iran’s developing nuclear and missile programs. These quadcopters have been used before. In June 2021, they were deployed to hit a centrifuge factory in Karaj outside Tehran and once again in February 2022 to attack a drone-manufacturing plant in Kermanshah.
Since the maximum range of these four-engined armed drones is no more than about 2km, the Mossad must obviously enlist local teams for arming and wielding them. The availability of local helpers for Mossad sabotage operations was hinted at in Jan. 2018 by Yossie Cohen, then director of the spy agency, when he remarked: “We have eyes, ears and more, if you will, inside Iran as well.”
Shortly after Saudi media claimed that the attack was carried out by the US and an allied force, Pentagon spokesperson Brig Gen Patrick Ryder denied the US military had played a part in the strikes but declined to speculate further.
Shortly after the Isfahan strike, “unidentified aircraft” on Sunday night reportedly struck a convoy of 25 trucks ferrying weapons and ammunition for pro-Iranian militias in Syria through Iraq, after it passed through the Syrian Abu Kabal border crossing controlled by the Hizballah terrorist group. Syrian sources reported that six trucks burst into flames with casualties. Israeli pilots were reported to have sent up flares before the attack, giving the drivers a chance to escape.
The two operations clearly touched a sensitive nerve in Moscow given its snowballing reliance on Iranian military support for its war in Ukraine in the form of armed drones and ballistic missiles.
On Monday, the Russian foreign ministry condemned the Isfahan attack as a provocation, warning that “this act of terror could have unpredictable consequences,” adding an unusual statement: “Russia’s intelligence services are analyzing information about the attack to get a more complete picture of what happened.”
Moscow has never hitherto used the term “terror” in relation to Israel’s long offensive against Iranian military targets. It is taken to mean that the Russians and their intelligence resources have opened the door to intervening in Israel’s shadow war against Iran, whenever and wherever it sees fit.