How the (Proxy) War Between Iran and Israel Started

    Sebastien Roblin

    Security, Middle East

    But how will it end? 

    At midnight on the Syrian-Israeli border on May 8–9, 2018 a multiple-rocket launcher system operated by the Quds force—an expeditionary special forces unit of the Iranian Revolution Guard Corps—fired a salvo of twenty unguided 333mm Fajr-5 rockets towards Israel. (You can see the apparent rocket launch here.) Four of the rockets were shot down by Israeli Iron Dome air defense system and the rest missed and landed in Syrian territory.

    A few hours later, around ten Israeli surface-to-surface missile launchers and twenty-eight F-15I and F-16I jets unleashed seventy cruise missiles and precision-guided glide bombs that struck Iranian logistical bases and outposts throughout Syria. The Iranian rocket launcher was destroyed, and when Syrian air defenses attempted to engage the Israeli fighters, five batteries were knocked out.

    The May 9 clash is considered the first direct clash between Iranian and Israeli forces, an event likely linked to the Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal the day before the attack. However, observers of the region might recall that Israeli warplanes had struck an Iranian convoy in Syria earlier that same day. There were additional strikes on May 6 and April 29 that killed scores of Syrian and Iranian troops—possibly including an Iranian general—and knocked out an S-200 surface-to-air missile battery.

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    By one count, there have been over 150 Israeli strikes in Syria stretching all the way back to 2012. Many of the raids have targeted transfers of advanced weapon systems to Hezbollah, or been made in response to cross-border attacks.

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