Syria asked Iran not to attack Israel from its territory - report

The Iran-led axis decided to strike US bases in response to Israeli airstrikes in order to avoid a war, according to a Times report citing a source in Damascus.

 Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian meets with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Syria (photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian meets with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Syria
(photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Syrian officials have asked Iran and its proxies not to conduct attacks against Israel from its territory, leading the Iran-led axis to retaliate against Israeli strikes by hitting American bases instead, The New York Times reported on Friday citing a source in Damascus.

The request came during a virtual meeting between Iran and Iran-backed parties from Syria, Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Yemen and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. The meeting was reported by Gheis Ghoreishi, an analyst close to the Iranian government, and confirmed to the Times by a person in Damascus.

The source in Damascus stated that the Syrians did not want an attack against Israel to be launched from their territory as that would risk an all-out war in the already destabilized country. Because of the request, the Iran-led "axis of resistance" targeted US bases in Syria in hopes that this would push America to pressure Israel to halt its strikes.

Senior US officials told the Times that drone attacks carried out on August 15 against the al-Tanf base in Syria, which hosts US troops, was more sophisticated than previous attacks and may have been an Iranian attempt to respond to a previous Israeli airstrike.

The day before the drone strike, at least three Syrian soldiers were killed in alleged Israeli airstrikes targeting sites near Tartus on the coast of Syria and near Damascus, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

 AN F-35 seen during an aerial display at an IAF pilots’ graduation ceremony at Hatzerim air base in the Negev. Stealth fighter aircraft of this type were involved in the downing of the Iranian UAVs.  (credit: AHARON KROHN/FLASH90) AN F-35 seen during an aerial display at an IAF pilots’ graduation ceremony at Hatzerim air base in the Negev. Stealth fighter aircraft of this type were involved in the downing of the Iranian UAVs. (credit: AHARON KROHN/FLASH90)

US strikes target Iranians in Syria in response to drone attack

Last week, the US conducted airstrikes against the IRGC and Iran-backed militias in the Deir Ezzor region of eastern Syria in response to the August 15 attacks. Iran-backed militias responded with rocket fire, with the US responding to the rocket fire with further airstrikes.

"It's our assessment that these groups are testing and attempting to see how we might respond," said Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder after the US airstrikes last week. "I think, based on the strikes that we have taken, we've sent a very loud and clear message and a proportional message, that any threat against our forces who are operating in Syria, or anywhere, will not be tolerated."

Iran decided to strike US bases in response to Israeli airstrikes

During the virtual meeting held by Iran and its proxies, military experts concluded that although the US military is stronger than Iran's proxies in Syria and would likely respond, the Biden administration was trying to defuse tensions in the region and would not start a new war. Based on that conclusion, the meeting participants decided to strike US bases in Syria in response to every Israeli strike.

Last year, the Times reported that Iran-backed militias had targeted al-Tanf in response to Israeli strikes in Syria.

On Thursday, alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted sites near Masyaf, according to SANA. A number of fires were sparked by the strikes, with blazes and secondary explosions reported for hours after the strikes. Initial reports indicated that at least one of the targets was the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center.