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June 24, 2020 4:38 pm

Assessment That Iran Was Leaving Syria Was ‘Wishful Thinking,’ Top Israeli Analyst Says

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Air Force F-15 planes. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

A top Israeli military analyst said on Wednesday that a series of air strikes in Syria widely attributed to Israel indicated that “the assessment that the Iranians are leaving Syria was wishful thinking.”

Reuters reported Tuesday that the strikes in southeast Syria near the city of Sweida and the eastern province of Deir al Zor struck military installations in areas where Iran-backed militias have a strong presence. Four soldiers were reported killed.

Israel has not taken responsibility for the strikes.

Amos Yadlin — a former IDF military intelligence chief who now heads the Tel Aviv University-affiliated Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) think tank, commented on Twitter, “The widespread attacks in Syria tonight suggest that the assessment that the Iranians are leaving Syria was wishful thinking.”

“An attack in the Sweida area indicates the expansion of Iranian entrenchment into the sensitive area of ​​the Druze Mountains,” he noted. “This region is included in the area where the Russians pledged not to allow access to Iran and Hezbollah.”

“The Iranians and their proxies will look for ways to respond and deter Israel,” Yadlin assessed. “Having previously failed to respond to rocket fire, they recently attempted to respond with a cyber attack. We must be prepared for a whole spectrum of possible responses by the Shi’ite axis.”

He added that recent developments showed that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had now “stepped into the shoes” of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top terrorist commander who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad in January.

Yadlin emphasized that these events were occurring in the midst of a “local currency crash in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, painful US sanctions, and a severe economic crisis in the wake of the coronavirus. Public criticism against the authorities is awakening.”

The crises, he said, could force the Tehran regime to moderate its response, but could also push it toward retaliation in order to distract the Iranian public from internal problems.

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