Qassem Soleimani, shrewd IRGC’s Quds Force commander who won every battle in Iraq and Syria over the last four years, fell into a trap.
Yochanan Visser is an independent journalist/analyst who worked for many years as Middle East correspondent for Western Journalism.com in Arizona and was a frequent publicist for the main Dutch paper De Volkskrant. He authored a book in the Dutch language about the cognitive war against Israel and now lives in Gush Etzion. He writes a twice weekly analysis of current issues for Arutz Sheva
On Wednesday night Iran finally made good on its promise to retaliate against Israel over its repeated attacks on targets related to the Iranian military build-up in Syria.
At 12.15 AM local time, residents of the Israeli communities on the Golan Heights were forced to go into their safety rooms and public bomb shelters, already opened the day before when the IAF pre-empted another Iranian attempt to strike Israel.
However, the barrage of twenty Grad and Fajr missiles which were fired from Syria by the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps led by General Qassem Soleimani triggered a devastating response by the Israeli military.
Using 28 IAF F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, the IAF destroyed more than 50 Iran-related targets in Syria, among them intelligence facilities, logistic headquarters, observation posts, weapon-storage facilities as well as rocket launchers and air defence batteries.
All together, the IAF and IDF used 60 air-to-ground missiles and 10 tactical ground-to-ground missiles, according to the Russian Defence Ministry.
The four-hour long Israeli offensive against the IRGC in Syria furthermore killed 28 Syrian soldiers and Shiite fighters, the Russians claimed.
On the Israeli side there were no reports of damages or casualties.
The Iron Dome anti-rocket shield intercepted 4 Fajr or Grad missiles over the Golan Heights, while a Patriot battery downed what seemed to be a modified Scud missile in the area of the northern Israeli city of Safed.
While some media outlets reported the Iranian attack could easily have triggered an all-out war, a closer look at the mini-battle on Wednesday night reveals that the parties operated according to a plan and did everything to avoid escalation towards a conventional war.
The Iranians limited their strikes to the Golan Heights, the most sparsely populated area in Israel, although they have the capability to strike Gush Dan and strategically important infrastructure throughout Israel.
The Iranians also didn’t order Hezbollah in Lebanon to use its 130,000 missiles against the Jewish state, in spite of the fact that IAF warplanes were breaching Lebanese airspace all the time during the offensive against the IRGC in Syria.
Hezbollah also didn’t react when debris of Israeli missiles struck several towns in the Bekaa valley nor did it respond when the IDF targeted one of its bases near Baath city in Syria.
Lebanese media apparently didn’t like Hezbollah’s passiveness in light of the massive Israeli offensive against the IRGC and published fake news reports claiming “Zionist military sites on the occupied Syrian Golan were targeted by dozens of missiles.”
Israel, meanwhile, deconflicted the situation by coordinating its actions with the Russians and by waiting to attack the IRGC-related targets until it had eliminated much of Syria’s air defenses.
The Israeli army later that revealed that Qassem Soleimani, the shrewd commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force and the man who won virtually every battle in Iraq and Syria over the last four years, had fallen into a trap.
IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ronen Manlis explained the Israeli army plundered the Iranian capabilities in Syria over the past month.
“They were dragged back because of the activity we carried out for over a month and during these past weeks,” Manlis said in reference to the string of IAF attacks on IRGC targets in Syria over the past five weeks.
Rouhani: We don’t want new tensions in the region
After Israeli strike on Iranian targets in Syria, Iranian President claims his country seeks to reduce tension in the region.
Hassan Rouhani Reuters
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed on Thursday that Iran does not want “new tensions” in the Middle East, after Israel carried out strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.
“Iran has always sought to reduce tensions in the region, trying to strengthen security and stability,” Rouhani told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a telephone call, according to a statement on the website of Iran’s presidency quoted by AFP.
Rouhani did not mention Israel’s strikes early on Thursday in Syria, or the Iranian missile attackon Israeli posts in the Golan Heights which preceded the Israeli retaliation.
Russia’s defense ministry said earlier on Thursday that Israel’s strikes on Syria saw 28 planes take part in raids with a total of around 60 missiles fired.
“28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 aircraft were used in the attack, which released around 60 air-to-ground missiles over various parts of Syria. Israel also fired more than 10 tactical ground-to-ground missiles,” the ministry said in a statement, quoted by the Interfax news agency.
At least 23 fighters, including five Syrian regime troops and 18 other allied forces, were killed in the attacks, the anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday.
The Britain-based observatory said the regime troops killed in the strikes included an officer, adding that the other casualties included Syrians and foreigners.
Iran’s attack on the Golan Heights was widely condemned by global leaders.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday evening said Israeli forces attacked Iranian and Assad regime targets inside of Syria in response to a serious escalation by Iranian forces.
“Iran crossed a red line. We responded accordingly. The IDF carried out a very extensive operation against Iranian targets in Syria,” he said.