While Israel continues its aerial campaign against Iranian targets in Syria the Israeli military seems to have widened its campaign against the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to Iraq.
This became clear from reports in the Arab and Iranian media and from the publication of a video with a statement made by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.
On Thursday last week, unknown unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s or drones) attacked an Iranian base in the Salah al-Din district near the town of Amerli in northern Iraq.
The base was manned by Iranian Quds Force members and fighters of the al-Hashd al-Shaabi umbrella organization of pre-dominantly Shiite militias and killed and wounded an unknown number of them.
The Iraqi government immediately ordered an investigation into the incident but stopped short of providing more details about the mysterious attack.
The IRGC-affiliated news site Fars News, citing the Arab news site al-Ahd, later reported that the attack was carried out with three Harop loitering missiles which are produced by Israel Aerospace Industries and which are in use by the IAF.
According to the London-based Arab news outlet Al-Arabiya the attack took place after the Shia Al-Shuhada militia of al-Hashd al-Shaabi had received new Iranian ballistic missiles.
The stockpile of Iranian missiles at the Al-Shuhada military base included Zelzal, Fateh-110 and Zolfaqar types. The latter is a ballistic missile with a reach of 700 kilometers and could be used against Israel since the Al-Shahada base is close to the Syrian border.
Speculations about Israel’s involvement in the attack on the Iraqi based increased after the Likud party in Israel published a video in which PM Netanyahu threatened to attack Iranian targets in Iraq.
“We will act against you (Iran) in Iraq. We will act against you wherever and whenever,” Netanyahu said in the video which was comparing his role as statesman to the possibility that former talk-show host and Blue and White party leader Yair Lapid would become the Prime Minister of Israel.
This was not the first time an aerial attack on al-Hashd al-Shaabi has been attributed to the Israeli Air Force (IAF).
In June 2018, drones were used to attack a base of a militia belonging to the umbrella organization killing between 20 and 40 Shiite fighters of the paramilitary force which will be fully integrated in the Iraqi army by the end of July.
At the time, an US official said that the IAF had carried out the attack near the town of Khari southeast of Al-Bukamal on the Syria-Iraq border.
The border town is located along the land bridge Iran has created over the past few years in northern Iraq and southeast Syria.
Al-Hashd al-Shaabi is an organization that takes its orders from Qassem Soleimani the commander of the Quds Force and is fully dependent on Iranian aid Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Deputy Commanderof the mainly Shiite and Turkmen force revealed last week.
The support of the Islamic Republic (of Iran) has been essential, and the youth of Hezbollah had an essential role in training, planning, and supporting (the Al-Hashd al Shaabi factions),” Muhandis said during a speech in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
“The Islamic Republic opened its treasury for us when weapons and ammunition were lacking. With (Iranian) support, we were able to defeat (Islamic State) militarily,” he added.
Israel, meanwhile, is continuing its campaign against Hezbollah and the Quds Force in Syria and reportedly carried out two operations on Syrian soil over the past few days.
On Tuesday night the IAF again bombed a base near the Tel al-Hara look-out on the the Syrian Golan Heights.
The base is in use by Hezbollah and Iranian forces and functions as an intelligence gathering center on the movements by the Israeli army on the Israeli Golan Heights for the Iranian axis.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported extensive damage and said there were casualties as well.
Hezbollah is currently moving forces from bases in Syria to the border with Israel in both Lebanon and Syria TheDaily Beast citing interviews with Hezbollah commanders reported last week.
Hezbollah’s activities on the Golan Heights most likely led to a second Israeli strike which killed Mashur Zidan one of the top commanders of the terrorist organization.
Zidan, a resident of the Druze village of Hader near Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights, was reportedly recruiting volunteers for Hezbollah’s ‘Golan Portfolio’ and was killed by a large improvised explosive device which exploded when he was driving his car in the al-Qadam neighborhood in Damascus.
The liquidation bore the hallmarks of a Mossad operation observers pointed out.
The Israeli spy agency carried out similar liquidations of Hezbollah commanders in Syria in the past.
One of them was Samir Kuntar a terrorist who spent 30 years in Israeli prisons for his role in the murder of an Israeli family and was released in 2008 on July 2008, under a a prisoner swap agreement between Hezbollah and Israel.
Another assassination which has been attributed to the Mossad and the CIA took place in Damascus on February 12, 2008 when Hezbollah’s terror mastermind Imad Mughniyeh was killed by a bomb hidden in the luggage trunk of his car.