Monday, April 30, 2018

Updates From The Middle East: Israel vs Iran/Russia

In a surprise and potentially far-reaching victory for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Knesset on Monday evening gave the prime minister the authority to declare war or order a major military operation by consulting only the defense minister, and not via a full cabinet vote as the law had previously required.
Sixty-two Knesset members voted the dramatic proposal into law, beating out the 41 opposition MKs who opposed it claiming that the language of the law effectively gives free reign to the prime minister by removing all oversight.
According to the new law, in “extreme circumstances,” military operations can be authorized by the prime minister and defense minister alone and will not need a vote by cabinet ministers.

The law does not specify exactly what those circumstances may be, or who will determine them, saying only that the case will apply, “if the issue is necessary due to urgency.”

The White House said late Monday that the trove of information  released earlier in the day by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “provides new and compelling details about Iran’s efforts to develop missile-deliverable nuclear weapons.”
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, until last week director of the CIA, said the documents were authentic and much of it was new to US experts.
The statement comes after Netanyahu’s broadcast in which the prime minister revealed that Israel had obtained 100,000 secret Iranian documents pertaining to the program.

“The United States is aware of the information just released by Israel and continues to examine it carefully,” the White House said.
“This information provides new and compelling details about Iran’s efforts to develop missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” it said. “These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.”

Officials tell NY Times Iran will likely wait to respond against Israel until after upcoming elections in Lebanon, where ally Hezbollah is fielding candidates

An overnight missile attack against weapons storage bases in Syria destroyed some 200 surface-to-surface rockets, a regional official told The New York Times Monday.
The official, from the regional alliance of Iran, Syria, Iran and its proxy Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, said the strikes killed 16 people, including 11 Iranians.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, missile strikes hit two military targets in Aleppo and Hama provinces late Sunday.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Monday Tehran will respond to the strikes against its facilities in Syria.
"Now for every your strike you will get retaliatory strikes," Khamenei said. The Supreme Leader warned that "the era when after delivering strikes the adversary managed to avoid a response is over."
The statement was a response to a missile strike on positions of the Syrian army and armed units of Shia militias fighting alongside with Damascus. A Syrian military source earlier told the SANA news agency that the strikes were carried out overnight to Monday against the outskirts of Hama and Aleppo.
According to Sky News Arabiya TV, the strike destroyed a large depot with Iranian weapons 10 km to the west of Hama (220 km from Damascus). The report said there were deaths among the Syrian forces and Iranian military advisers.

The explosion in Syria’s Hama province late Sunday night, which has been attributed to an Israeli airstrike, registered 2.6 on the Richter scale — a small earthquake, the kind that won’t knock down a building, but might knock a picture off your shelf.
The epicenter of this tremor was a military base south of the city of Hama, which is connected to the Syrian military’s 47th Brigade and has been identified by Syrian opposition sources as being under Iranian control and housing a weapons depot.
Casualty reports from the strike varied, ranging from 16 to 38 people killed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that there were 26 fatalities, most of them Iranian.

In general, the concern in Jerusalem is that precise medium- and long-range missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles — like the armed one that Israel says entered its airspace in February — or sophisticated air defense systems will make their way into Syria or to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
If Israeli intelligence spots such a shipment, the country’s decision-makers must determine if the risk of retaliation outweighs the threat posed by the incoming system in question.
“Do we confront Iran before it has these capabilities, or do we wait?” Yadlin said.

Supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei threatened the United States and its allies during a Monday speech to workers leading up to International Workers’ Day. The remarks came in response to a Sunday attack on a base in Syria that killed a number of Iranians.
Khamenei told a crowd of "thousands of laborers and entrepreneurs" from across Iran that the United States is trying to pit Muslims against one another, according to the leader's official website. "The US incites the Saudis in order to create conflict in our region. Why don't they incite the Zionists? Because they want Muslims to fight against Muslims," Khamenei reportedly said.
Sunday night, an airstrike on was conducted against the 47th Brigade of the Syrian Arab Army, a unit made up of Iranian forces and forces from Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based international army that has been fighting for the government in Syria. The attack hit a military base somewhere between Hama and Homs killing 18 Iranians, according to the Jerusalem Post. However, Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing an official from the Iran-Hezbollah-Syria coalition, said 16 people were killed, including 11 Iranians. 

More Rumors Of War: New 'Hottest Flashpoint' - Taiwan Mulls Buying U.S. Abrams Tanks To Counter China

New ‘hottest flashpoint’? Taiwan mulls buying US Abrams tanks to counter China

Taiwan is considering purchasing American M1A2 Abrams tanks to defend its shores from China’s potential aggression, Taipei’s defense minister said, claiming that the island might become a new “hottest flashpoint” in the region.
Taipei is contemplating the procurement of US M1A2 Abrams tanks to serve as a coastal line of defense should mainland China chose to reassert its sovereignty over the island nation, Minister of National Defense Yen Teh-fa told a panel of lawmakers on Monday, Central News Agency reports.
Noting that Abrams tanks could serve as the key force to “win the coast and defeat the enemy on the beach,” the defense minister told the panel that the military is currently evaluating buying the hardware from the United States. The assessment and the size of the potential order, Yen added, will be completed by the end of the year.

The Taiwanese defense chief believes that the island must beef up its military as China steps up its military maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait.
“In one or two months, China will hold more long-range military training and increase combined forces operations when engaged in such activities in waters near Taiwan,” Yen said“The Taiwan Strait is very likely to replace the Korean Peninsula as the hottest flash point in the region.”
Yen also noted that Taipei increased its military readiness following an expansion of Beijing’s activities near Taiwan. Since the beginning of this year, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's aircraft carrier Liaoning passed near Taiwan on at least three occasions, the last one being on April 19. Furthermore, Chinese aircraft have stepped up their island patrols in April to practice maneuvers aimed “to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Last week, the PLA even released a video showing its fighter jets patrolling the skies near the island nation. “The video is to let Chinese people of all ethnic groups, especially compatriots in Taiwan and overseas Chinese, understand that not a single inch of China will ever be separated from the motherland,” the Chinese air force said.

Relations between Beijing and Taipei have deteriorated since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, a member of the island’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, took office in May 2016. China suspects the leader is seeking to push for formal independence. Beijing, which has always maintained its 'One China' policy, sees Taiwan as part of the country and is wary of Washington's support for the island.

Russian S-400 Defense System: Can It Stop America's Tomahawk Missiles?

Can Russia's S-400 Defense System Stop America's Tomahawk Missiles?

After more than seven years of civil war, the Syrian regime is armed to the teeth with Cold War-era missile defense systems which, despite their age, still managed to shoot down a large percentage of missiles launched during an assault by a US-led coalition earlier this month on the country's chemical weapons facilities.
But as the US flirts with taking a more aggressive role in the conflict, two of the world's most advanced weapons systems - the US's tomahawk missiles and Russia's S-400 missile defense system - could end up facing off against each other, the Telegraph reports.

Following the latest coalition attack, Russia said it would supply Syria with some of its S-400 systems. A showdown between the S-400 and the US's tomahawk missiles in Syria would mark the first time that the two systems ever came into conflict. 
Russia's S-400 - the latest generation of its missile defense systems - is the most advanced weapon of its kind in the world. It's equipped with a sophisticated radar array that allows it to target dozens of missiles and enemy aircraft simultaneously at ranges up to 250 miles.

To be sure, its missile-intercepting capabilities are shorter range, roughly 75 miles, but the missiles can fly at speeds up to a thousand meters per second and hit low-flying targets at just a few meters of altitude.

Meanwhile, the tomahawks - launched from US navy ships - could deliver a 1000 pound (450kg) warhead with pin-point accuracy from ranges of 800 to 1500 miles.
But US military observers say the American forces could overwhelm the Russian air defenses by launching an overwhelming number of tomahawk missiles in a strike that would resemble the one launched against the Shayrat airfield in Syria last April, when President Trump fired 59 of the missiles, destroying Syrian planes and other military hardware.

"The system should have plenty of capacity to shoot down individual missiles. But it is fairly easy to swamp it just in terms of the sheer number of interceptors required," said Justin Bronk of the Royal United Services Institute.

Of course, if the S-400 does manage to stop most or all of the tomahawks in a scenario like the one described above, it would have serious ramifications for NATO, which would need to revise its expectations surrounding Russia's aerial-defense capacity.

"The performance of the S-400 would be very significant for Nato. The system is feared in Europe and Kaliningrad. If it was shown to be incapable of stopping significant numbers of Tomahawks it would have implications for Russia's deterrence capability," said Mr Bronk.
"That could be why the Russians refrained from intercepting the Tomahawks fired at Shayrat last year - nothing is more terrifying than the unknown."

Earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin's unveiled a range of new Russian weapons, including a nuclear warhead that he said could surpass NATO's missile defenses in Eastern Europe and strike nearly any target on Earth.
With all these new weapons being unveiled, we imagine NATO's commanders have already been forced to go back to the drawing board again and again to try and work out how best to contain Russia with its new arsenal, which is giving the US a run for its money.

Mossad Stole Iran's Nuke Archive And Smuggled It Back To Israel

Mossad stole Iran's nuke archive and smuggled it back to Israel the same night

Spies from Israel’s Mossad agency discovered the top-secret location of a warehouse used to store Iran’s nuclear weapons files, broke into the building, took half a ton of documents and managed to smuggle them back to Israel that same night, The New York Times reported Monday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed the daring operation as he displayed the trove of documents in a presentation aimed at proving that Iran has lied about its atomic weapon’s program.
However, he gave few details on how or when the agents managed what he called one of the “greatest achievements” of Israeli intelligence.

A senior Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a secret mission, told the New York Times that the Mossad discovered the warehouse in February 2016, and had the building under surveillance since then.
The operatives broke into the building one night last January, removed the original documents and smuggled them back to Israel the same night, the official said, according to the paper.
US President Donald Trump was informed of the operation by the Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen, on a visit to Washington in January, the official said.
The official said the delay in making the material public was due to the time it took to analyze the documents, the vast majority of which were in Persian.

The cache, he said, contained “incriminating documents, incriminating charts, incriminating presentations, incriminating blueprints, incriminating photos, incriminating videos and more.
“We’ve shared this material with the United States, and the United States can vouch for its authenticity,” he said of the information.

The Wars To Come: Not If But When

...As Isaiah 17 and Ezekiel 38-39 come into focus:

Israel stomping on Iran with strikes, stolen documents, could bring war

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said Israeli intelligencehad obtained a trove of "secret" documents outlining a clandestine Iranian nuclear program, and he accused Tehran of cheating on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
  • Experts say a strike in Syria on Sunday that is believed to have killed Iranians was most likely carried out by Israel in a marked escalation of military conflict.
  • Israel appears to have been punishing Iran and walking all over Syria as the US expresses support for Jerusalem.
  • The result, experts say, could be a massive war breaking out across a region already ravaged by conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said Israeli intelligence had obtained a trove of "secret" documents outlining a clandestine nuclear program in Iran. 
On Sunday, Syria got rocked by a missile attack that appeared to ignite a munitions depot hard enough to register as a 2.6 magnitude earthquake and is believed to have killed dozens of Iranians. Experts say the strike was most likely carried out by Israel. 
Though Tehran has denied that Iranians died in the strike, a more aggressive posture toward Iran by Israel could bring about a major clash that experts say might lead to the biggest war the Middle East has ever seen
The perpetrator of Sunday's attack hasn't been confirmed. Israel rarely takes credit for strikes within Syria, though it maintains that it will strike at any Iranian activity there that it deems a threat.
With an estimated 20,000 to 70,000 Shiite Iranian-aligned fighters and tens of thousands of rockets in Syria, that's a lot of activity for Israel to monitor.

Israel's air force appears to be repeatedly battering Iran and Syria 

Israeli F-15s.

Jonathan Schanzer, an expert on Iran and Syria at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says Israel is picking up the pace of strikes and moves against Iran — and staring down the barrel of a massive confrontation. 
"For some time, it really did look like the Israelis were holding back," Schanzer told Business Insider. "They seemed reticent to engage. They didn't want to expose themselves in the skies over Syria." 
But after an air battle in February among Israeli, Syrian, and Iranian forces — in which Israel said it downed an Iranian drone and much of Syria's air defenses but lost an F-16 fighter jet— Israel appears to be going much harder. 
Israeli forces "appear to have broken a seal of sorts," Schanzer said, adding that Israel may see a "window" as Syria's air defenses are vulnerable.

Both Iranian and Israeli sources cited in recent news reports have predicted retaliation to the strike on Sunday. 
But before any such answer could be made, Israel dropped what it characterized as a massive cache of dirt on Iran. 

'A psychological operation'

Netanyahu said at a press conference on Monday that Israeli intelligence had about 100,000 documents, videos, and photographs showing that Iran had lied about its nuclear ambitions, and he accused it of cheating on the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. 
Schanzer said: "Spies steal documents all the time, but this was a huge cache. And usually, spy agencies keep it quiet after the intelligence is lifted. Not so with the Israelis — they are broadcasting this, making it as much a psychological operation as a revelation about Iran's nuclear mendacity."

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has signaled the US is revisiting the Iran nuclear deal. 
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that Trump would withdraw from the 2015 deal "if we can't fix it" and assured Netanyahu that the US was "deeply concerned about Iran's dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region and Iran's ambition to dominate the Middle East." 
"The United States is with Israel in this fight, and we strongly support Israel's sovereign right to defend itself," Pompeo added. 
Iran's ability to retaliate against Israel is limited. 
Diplomatically, Iran doesn't have much leverage. Though Iran is allied with Russia, Russian air defenses in Syria seem uninterested in protecting Iranian targets from suspected Israeli strikes. 

Iran's main leverage over Israel is its influence with Hamas, a Palestinian group active in the already boiling Gaza Strip on Israel's border, and its nearby fighters and rocket stockpiles. 
"There are things that Iran can do very quickly to make things miserable for the Israelis," Schanzer said. 
With Israel on the sidelines of the civil war in Syria, where over 70 countries have bombed or contributed to bombing efforts, the feud heating up between Jerusalem and Tehran could erupt into a fight that could rock the Middle East.

Netanyahu: Iran 'Brazenly Lied' About Nuclear Program, Revelations Unlikely To Diminish Global Support For Nuclear Accord

Netanyahu: Iran 'brazenly lied' about nuclear program, continued work after deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of lying about its nuclear program in a speech broadcast live Monday, revealing information he said showed the Islamic Republic had for years worked on developing nuclear weapons, and continued to pursue such weapons even after signing the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
The premier, who has repeatedly called for the accord between world powers and Iran to either be altered or scrapped, said Israel had obtained 100,000 secret Iranian files a few weeks ago in one the “greatest achievements” of Israeli intelligence.
Speaking in English at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu gave a presentation including videos and slides he said exposed Iran’s nuclear dossier.

“You may well know that Iran’s leaders repeatedly deny ever pursuing nuclear weapons,” he said, before playing clips of Iran’s supreme leader, president and foreign minister denying the country ever sought such capabilities.
“Iran lied. Big time,” said Netanyahu, adding that the trove included a half-ton of material.
The cache, he said, contained “incriminating documents, incriminating charts, incriminating presentations, incriminating blueprints, incriminating photos, incriminating videos and more.
“We’ve shared this material with the United States, and the United States can vouch for its authenticity,” he said of the information.

Netanyahu went onto detail the so-called Project Amad, which beginning in the early 1990s put Iran on a path to “design, produce and test… five warheads, each with a 10 kiloton TNT yield, for integration on a missile.”
“That is like five Hiroshima bombs to be put on ballistic missiles,” he said of the plan.
Netanyahu said Project Amad included five key elements — designing nuclear weapons, developing nuclear cores, building nuclear implosion systems, preparing nuclear tests, and integrating nuclear warheads on missiles.

“These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it says it never had a nuclear weapons program. The files prove that,” he said.
Amid growing pressure, Iran decided to shut down Project Amad in 2003, Netanyahu said, instead splitting its nuclear program into covert and overt tracks in order to avoid scrutiny.
“This is exactly what Iran continued to do,” said Netanyahu. “Iran planned at the highest levels to continue work related to nuclear weapons — under different guises and using the same personnel.
Earlier Monday, Netanyahu convened an unscheduled meeting of Israel’s decision-making security cabinet at the Defense Ministry HQ. Hadashot said he briefed ministers on the intelligence info.

Just in time for the 8 p.m. evening news, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday presented the nation — and the world — with an impressive achievement by Israel’s Mossad spy agency. Agents were able to obtain more than 100,000 files from Iran’s own archive filled with top-secret information about the regime’s past illicit nuclear weapons program.
Four hours earlier, his office heralded a statement on a “significant development regarding the nuclear agreement with Iran.” Netanyahu would deliver his speech at the Kirya, the Tel Aviv headquarter of Israel’s defense establishment, and not, as he usually does, at his Jerusalem office. His aides promised stunning revelations that would change the way the world looks at the Iran deal.
“Tonight, we’re going to show you something that the world has never seen before,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of his presentation. “Tonight, we are going to reveal new and conclusive proof of the secret nuclear weapons program that Iran has been hiding for years from the international community in its secret atomic archive.”

Citing original Iranian documents, Netanyahu showed that Iran lied about never having had a nuclear weapons program. He also presented evidence that Iran, even after the 2015 landmark deal with six world powers, is seeking to expand its nuclear knowhow for future use. But none of this surprised the experts.

According to the deal, Iran was obligated to come clean about its past but failed to do so, the prime minister showed. That is, strictly speaking, a violation of the deal. A grave violation, in Netanyahu’s view, but marginalized as a technicality by others. European officials, reacting to the speech, were unmoved. Unsurprisingly, so too was Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Either way, the five other countries that signed the deal with Iran in 2015 — France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia — will mostly likely remain unfazed by Netanyahu’s presentation.

“All of this obviously raises some questions regarding Iran’s credibility,” the European diplomat told The Times of Israel, minutes after the prime minister had concluded his remarks. “But we made the nuclear deal precisely because we don’t trust the Iranians, not because we considered them very trustworthy.”

Ilan Goldenberg, an expert on Iran at the Center for a New American Security, similarly argued that Iran’s past lies necessitated the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“Of course Iran lied in the past about its nuclear program. That is precisely WHY we have the JCPOA which does not just take them at their word but puts in place one of the deepest, most intrusive inspections regime in history,” he tweeted.
But five of the six countries that negotiated and signed the agreement believed, and still believe, that its verification mechanism is sufficient to ensure Iran is unable to clandestinely break out and produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb, at least for the duration of the accord.
The US is indeed likely to pull out of the deal next month, reinstating nuclear-related sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese have already said they would not follow suit. And the early signs are that Netanyahu’s remarks on Monday have done nothing to change their minds.

Has The 'Powder Keg' Been Lit? Report: Iran Likely To Attack Israel After Lebanese Elections

Following the alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria last night, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that his country is more committed than ever to eradicating terrorists from his country. Meanwhile, an official in an alliance that includes Syria and its regional allies told the New York Times that Iran will likely attack Israel after the Lebanese parliamentary election in May.

On Monday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed that the latest airstrikes in Syria constitute an escalation in hostility toward Syria. In the airstrikes, several sites in the Hama and Aleppo areas were destroyed. Pro-Assad media outlets and Hezbollah have accused Israel of carrying out the airstrikes.

“The entire region is in a stage where the political maps are being redrawn,” Assad said during a meeting with an Iranian lawmaker, according to Hadashot news. “The incorporation of other countries in the phase of direct aggression [against Syria] after their plans failed only increases the determination of the Syrians to eradicate all forms of terrorism.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that more than 200 missiles were destroyed in last night’s attack, quoting an unnamed official from a regional alliance that includes Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. In addition, the official said that 11 Iranians were among the 16 people who were killed.

The official added that Tehran will likely retaliate against Israel. However, he said that the counterattack would not take place before the May 6 election in Lebanon.

Our World Has Been Set Upon A Collision Course With Armageddon

By Pastor Dick Carmack - All News Pipeline 

To Abram God said, 

Ge 13:15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 

He did the same thing again in May of 1948 indicating the promises made so long ago are still in effect. God doesn’t change His mind. The “second planting” was 70 years ago May 2018. 

…in both instances He declared “This is My land, I give it to thee and whosoever divides it, I will divide.” That of course is a paraphrase. But He did say it, just in different words. Here is an exact quote. 

Joe 3:2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and PARTED MY LAND. 

Ever since Abram the nations have been trying to divide Israel away from the land the Almighty gave them so they can take it for themselves, but every time they try the Jews just get stronger. Israel is the linchpin of the world. God made it that way. If Israel comes apart so does mankind and those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. Because of God’s gift to His chosen people and because of the world’s attempt to negate those promises the world is on a collision course with a famous, climactic war called Armageddon. 

Meanwhile anti-Semitism is building all over the world. Many books have been written and dozens more await publication detailing the world’s hatred of Israel because they instinctively know, even if they haven’t been told, God is working through that nation. Even Angela Merkel acknowledged that fact last week even though she is the driving force behind the forced Islamization of Europe. After a 2000 year hiatus the Jews came back to their land in May of 1948. That was seventy years ago. Seventy is the ten times multiple of the complete number, seven. 

God chose Abram (Abraham) because God chose Abram 

…and through him built a nation, brought the Prophets, the Bible, Jesus Christ and salvation to all who believe. “Nobody can successfully argue with God. Instead they attack Him through His people.” 

Ga 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

So when we see the wars in the Middle East, when we see the Alignment of Nations leading up to the Gog-Magog (next Middle-East) War, when we see Armageddon building, we can rest secure in the fact that Islam has already lost the coming wars, they just figured out yet they’re already dead. 

Bombing In Syria: Who Did What? Israel's Security Cabinet Calls Emergency Meeting, Refuses To Comment On Missile Strikes

After Syria strikes, security cabinet calls emergency meeting

The high-level security cabinet will convene for an emergency meeting on Monday afternoon, hours after missile strikes in Syria reportedly killed some 18 Iranian troops.
Ministers were told to arrive at the Kirya military base, which is also home to the Defense Ministry, in Tel Aviv at 1:30 p.m. The impromptu meeting was to focus on the rising tension on Israel’s northern borders.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who was returning from New York, was not expected to make it back in time for the meeting.

Syrian state media reported overnight that “enemy missiles” had struck government targets in Hama and Aleppo provinces, without mentioning any casualties or who may have been responsible.
In the hours after the strikes, media reports said that 18 members of Iran’s military, including a senior officer, were killed in the raids. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said 26 pro-regime fighters, most of them Iranians, had been killed. There were conflicting reports on the number of casualties, with some opposition-linked outlets placing the overall number of fatalities at 38.

Iran subsequently denied that its bases in Syria had been targeted or that any of its soldiers had been killed.

Iran on Monday denied that any of its soldiers were killed in overnight strikes in Syria or that its bases had been targeted in the raids.
“All these reports over attack on an Iranian military base in Syria and the martyrdom of several Iranian military advisers in Syria are baseless,” an unnamed source told the semi-official Tasnim news agency, according to a report from Reuters.
Syrian state media reported overnight that “enemy missiles” had struck government targets in Hama and Aleppo provinces, without mentioning any casualties or who may have been responsible.

In the hours after the strikes, media reports said that 18 members of Iran’s military, including a senior officer, were killed in the raids. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said 26 pro-regime fighters, most of them Iranians, had been killed.

Iran’s ISNA news agency also briefly put the number of Iranians killed at 18. That report was later removed.
Photos published by Lebanese media on Monday purported to show the damage caused by the missiles.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighters had been killed in a raid, “probably” carried out by Israel, on the 47th Brigade base in Hama.
“At least 26 fighters were killed, including four Syrians,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based war monitor. “The others are foreign fighters, a vast majority of them Iranians.”
“Given the nature of the target, it is likely to have been an Israeli strike,” he said, adding that strikes also hit an air base in nearby Aleppo province where surface-to-surface missiles were stored.
There were conflicting reports on the number of casualties, with some opposition-linked outlets placing the overall number of fatalities at 38.
While some sources blamed Israel for the purported strikes, Syrian state-owned news site Tishreen said late Sunday the raids were carried out by the United States and British forces. The Western troops launched nine ballistic missiles from military bases in northern Jordan that struck Syrian bases near Aleppo and Hama, the news outlet said on its Facebook page.

Other media outlets claimed the attacks were carried out by aircraft bombers, and Hezbollah-linked sources and other regime outlets attributed the strikes to Israel.
There was no official statement from the US or Britain about the attack. As a rule, the Israeli Air Force does not comment on its activities abroad.

Haaretz has reported that a spate of alleged missile attacks on Syrian military bases in the Hama and Aleppo provinces might be staged by Israeli forces.
Speaking to Sputnik, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Defense Forces has declined to comment on missile strikes against several Syrian government military bases in Aleppo and Hama that the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported took place on Saturday evening.

"We refuse to comment [on this]," she said.

Earlier, SANA, Syria's state-run news agency reported that explosions had been heard near the cities of Hamas and Aleppo.
According to other media outlets, a missile strike, conducted at approximately 19:30 GMT, targeted Syrian army installations in the area.

Reuters in turn quoted Hama locals as saying that the attacked bases were being used by Iranian-backed forces.
Israel might be responsible for the attack, according to a report published by Haaretz. The newspaper cited Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying that Tel Aviv would continue to declare that it had freedom to operate in Syria.

Unidentified strikes near #Hama and #Aleppo in #Syria. Possible #Israeli action.
— Strategic Sentinel (@StratSentinel) 29 апреля 2018 г.

Overnight attack comes with Pompeo in the region, Netanyahu and Trump on the phone, Liberman in the US, and the US Army CENTCOM chief having visited without fanfare last week

Hours after a mysterious “earthquake” — 2. 6 on the Richter scale — registered on the devices of the European Mediterranean Seismological Center, the circumstances behind the series of explosions that shook Syria overnight Sunday-Monday are starting to become clear.
An increasing number of media organizations associated with the Syrian regime and Hezbollah are hinting that Israel was responsible. According to a report in the Al Akhbar newspaper, identified with Hezbollah, bunker buster missiles, which do not explode on impact but rather deep in the ground, hit bases in the Hama and Aleppo areas. Hence the “earthquake.”
The base that was attacked in the Hama area belongs to the 47th Brigade of President Bashar Assad’s Syrian Army, but apparently there were many Shiites and/or Iranians in the area. The Syrian Human Rights Observatory (based in London) reported that 26 people were killed in this attack, Iranians among them. Another report spoke of 38 fatalities. Whatever the case, it is clear that the strike was highly unusual in several respects

First and foremost was the sheer power of the attack. The pictures and the sounds, and the large number of casualties, point to an incident of larger scale than those to which we have become accustomed. We are not talking here about just another strike on another Hezbollah convoy, but rather what would appear to be a new step in what is now the almost-open warfare being waged between Iran and Israel in recent weeks on Syrian territory. 

The same player that earlier this month attacked the T-4 airbase, from which an Iranian attack drone was launched into Israel in February, apparently struck again overnight Sunday-Monday, taking the gloves off and moving into a new level of military confrontation.

Second, not only is the attacking force not rushing to take responsibility, but those who are being attacked are not hurrying to assign blame. That is to say, there may be hints regarding ostensible Israeli responsibility, but there has been no direct accusation — at least not at the time of writing.

Indeed, one newspaper associated with the Assad regime, Tishreen, has even claimed that the attack was carried out by US and UK forces using ballistic missiles fired from Jordan.

This report would appear to be somewhat improbable, but the bottom line is that Damascus, Tehran and even Moscow would seem to be wary at this stage of issuing declarations that might require them to retaliate against Israel, or cause them to appear to be making empty threats in light of Iran’s repeated public promises after the last attack, on T-4, that retaliation against Israel would emphatically follow.

Third, the latest strike was carried out at a time when the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is visiting the region, and just a few hours after he held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two of them used the opportunity to issue no shortage of threats and promises to thwart Iran’s aggression and nuclear ambitions.

Late Sunday, news also broke of a phone call between Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump. Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has been meeting with his US counterpart James Mattis in Washington. And less than a week ago, Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of the US army’s Central Command, or CENTCOM, whose sphere of responsibility includes Syria and Iran, made a largely unpublicized visit to Israel.

All this is beginning to look rather like a coordinated Israeli-American operation to limit Iran’s military activities in Syria — simultaneously conveying the message to Moscow that Russia’s green light for Iran to establish itself militarily in Syria is not acceptable in Jerusalem and Washington.

These developments are unfolding during a highly dramatic period in the region, with the US two weeks away from opening its embassy in Jerusalem. Of most specific relevance, however, is the fact that in less than two weeks the Trump administration will make its decision on whether or not to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal.
In that light, the resonant strikes in Syria overnight will doubtless constitute considerable food for thought for Tehran, and indeed Moscow, regarding their next moves in Syria and maybe in other places as well.

Syrian army says 'enemy' rocket attacks strike at military bases

The Syrian army said on Sunday that rockets had struck several military bases in Hama and Aleppo countryside in what it said was new "aggression" by its enemies, state television said.

In a news flash, state television said the missile attacks took place at 10:30 p.m. local time. Earlier, state television said successive blasts were heard in rural Hama province and that authorities were investigating the cause.

"Syria is being exposed to a new aggression with some military bases in rural Hama and Aleppo hit with enemy rockets," an army source was quoted as saying without elaborating.

Reports from the Syrian opposition said 38 regime soldiers were killed and 57 were injured in the attack, citing media outlets with connections to the regime.

An opposition source said one of the locations hit was an army base known as Brigade 47 near Hama city, widely known as a recruitment center for Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias who fight alongside President Bashar Assad's forces.

State television did not give a location for the explosions but two residents contacted in eastern Hama countryside said the blasts came from a military base reported to be used by Iranian-backed forces.

Tensions have risen dramatically between the two arch-enemies following the infiltration of an armed Iranian drone into northern Israel which the IDF claims was on a sabotage attack mission against the Jewish State. In mid-April, a strike on the T4 airbase in Homs province blamed on Israel killed seven IRGC soldiers, including Col. Mehdi Dehghan who led the drone unit operating out of the base. Reports later surfaced that advanced Iranian Air defenses had been the target of the strike.