Missiles and a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran.
(photo credit: NAZANIN TABATABAEE YAZDI/ TIMA VIA REUTERS)
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 KAN, Washington asked Israel several weeks ago to not carry out any air-strikes in Iraq, weeks before reports surfaced that Tehran had deployed ballistic missiles capable of hitting Saudi Arabia and 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 Shi’ite 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 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, the Islamic Republic is continuing to improve its missile arsenal. It recently unveiled a new generation of short-range Fateh missiles called al-Mobeen or “The Divine Conquest” which is said to have a range of 300-500 km.
The Islamic Republic possesses more than 1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, and has the ability to proliferate weapons to countries and non-state actors including Hezbollah on Israel’s border with Lebanon 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 Fox News recently reported Iran is suspected of smuggling weapons into Lebanon for Hezbollah.
Citing Western intelligence sources, Fox reported in the past two months two Fars Air Qeshm flights took unusual routes from Tehran to Beirut “to try avoiding detection.” According to intelligence sources quoted by Fox, one flight on July 9 stopped in Damascus before flying a “rather uncharacteristic flight path” over northern Lebanon. The Iranian plane 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 repeatedly stated it considers the transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah to be a “redline,” and will work to prevent any such movement.
Israel is concerned that Iran is consolidating its grip in Syria making it a forward base to attack Israel. Jerusalem is also alarmed that Iran is building advanced weapons factories in Syria and Lebanon to manufacture GPS-guided missiles that could strike targets in Israel with great 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.”
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