TEL AVIV – Iran is withdrawing from Syria and shuttering military bases there, Israeli defense officials said Tuesday following a spike in Israeli-attributed strikes on Iranian targets in the country.
The latest raids on Monday night killed 14 Iranian militants. Israel maintained its policy of silence in response to allegations it was behind the strikes.
Israel’s efforts have succeeded in overturning Iran’s entrenchment in Syria, The Times of Israel quoted anonymous Israeli officials as saying, and Iranian forces are deserting a number of military bases.
“We are determined, more determined [than Iran], and I can tell you why — for Iran, Syria is an adventure happening 1,000 kilometers away from home. For us, it’s our lives,” Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday.
“Iranian soldiers who come to Syria and operate there, their lives are in their hands. They are putting their lives at risk, they are paying that price and will continue to do so. We will not give up and we will not allow the establishment of an Iranian forward operating base in Syria,” Bennett said.
The number of Syrian-bound flights from Iran transporting munitions has dropped significantly apparently due to Israel’s ongoing strikes on military airports.
Israel has also targeted Syria’s air defense systems.
“Syria is paying a growing price for the Iranian presence in its territory, for a war that isn’t [Syria’s]. Iran has turned from an asset to Syria into a burden,” the defense officials said.
Israel is hoping to corner Syria and make the regime understand Iran’s presence in the country was a tremendous burden, the officials said, and added Jerusalem would not lessen the pressure until Iranian presence in Syria was eradicated.
Iran has been helping its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah convert simple rockets into precision-guided missiles, a threat that Jerusalem has deemed second only to Tehran’s nuclear program.
Monday’s attack targeted a Syrian military research center that was involved in the rocket conversion project, the report said.
The defense officials said that some of Israel’s success against Iran in Syria was the result of the U.S.’ targeted killing on the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s expeditionary Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani.