US officials have warned Israel not to strike Iraq after officials signaled that the IDF could target Iranian military positions in the country.
According to a report on Israel’s public broadcaster KANN, Washington asked Israel several weeks ago to not carry out any airstrikes in Iraq, weeks before reports surfaced that Tehran had deployed ballistic missiles capable of hitting Saudi Arabia or Israel.
American officials were reported to have told Israeli defense officials to “please leave Iraq to us.”
A report by Reuters over the weekend stated that Iran had transferred ballistic missiles to Shiite proxies in Iraq over the course of several months and that it is developing the capacity to build missile manufacturing facilities as well as train militia groups to operate the weapons.
The missiles that were said to have been transferred include the Fateh-110, Zolfaqar, and Zelzal types, which have ranges of 200-700 km allowing them to be able to threaten both Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Despite new US sanctions placed on Iran meant to pressure Tehran over its military activity in the Middle East and its ballistic missile program, Tehran is continuing to improve its missile arsenal. It recently unveiled a new generation of short-range Fateh missiles called the Al-Mobeen or “The Divine Conquest” which is said to have a range of 300-500 km.
The Islamic Republic possesses over 1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles and has the ability to proliferate weapons to countries and non-state actors such as Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or Iran deal) Tehran is prohibited from transferring any weapons to third countries but according to a new report by Fox News Iran is suspected of smuggling weapons into Lebanon for Hezbollah.
Citing Western intelligence sources two Qeshm Fars Air flights took unusual routes “to try avoiding detection” from Tehran to Beirut during several flights over the course of the past two months.
According to intelligence sources quoted by Fox, one flight on July 9th stopped in Damascus before flying over “rather uncharacteristic flight path” over northern Lebanon and carried components for producing precision weapons.
A second flight on August 2 “took a slightly irregular route” flying over northern Syria. The report did not say what the cargo of that flight was.
“The Iranians are trying to come up with new ways and routes to smuggle weapons from Iran to its allies in the Middle East, testing and defying the West’s abilities to track them down,” said an intelligence official quoted by Fox News.
Israel has reiterated its view several times on any transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah as a “red line” and will work to prevent any such movement.
Israel is also concerned that Iran is not only trying to consolidate its grip in Syria where it could establish a forward base to attack Israel, but that it is trying to build an advanced weapons factories in Syria and Lebanon in order to manufacture GPS-guided missiles that could hit targets with greater accuracy.
On Monday the head of the IDF’s Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoel Strick warned that Israel’s military has dramatically improved since the last conflict with Hezbollah in 2006.
“If [Hezbollah] knew what we know about them, they wouldn’t be speaking so confidently,” Strick said during a conference organized by Hadashot. “[Hezbollah] will feel the force of our arm. I hope there won’t be another war, but if there is, it won’t be another Second Lebanon War, but the final northern war.”
As reported by The Jerusalem Post