In a rare confirmation, the Israel Defense Forces acknowledged striking Iranian targets in Syria to prevent a “pending, large-scale attack of multiple killer drones on Israel.”
An Iranian drone attack on Israel would have represented a massive escalation in Iran’s efforts to attack the Jewish state.
BREAKING: We just prevented a pending, large-scale attack of multiple killer drones on Israel by striking Iranian Quds Force operatives and Shiite Militia targets in Syria.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) August 24, 2019
“The strike targeted Iranian Quds Force operatives and Shiite militias which were preparing to advance attack plans targeting sites in Israel from within Syria over the last number of days,” the IDF said in a statement.
IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said Israel possesses information that Iranian forces were prepping to launch “killer drones” packed with explosives and aiming to target northern Israel. He said that Israel had monitored the Iranian drone plan for months and that Iran was prevented last Thursday from carrying out an “advanced attempt” as part of the same plot to strike Israel with drones. On Saturday, Israel became aware of another Iranian attempt to carry out the same attack, with Conricus saying today’s drone plot attempt was “very imminent.”
“This was a significant plan with significant capabilities that had been planned for a few months,” Conricus added. “It was not something done on a low level, but rather top down from the Quds Force.”
Israel Air Force jets struck Iranian targets at around 11 p.m. local time on Saturday in the Syrian town of Aqraba, which is located between the center of Damascus and the city’s airport, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
On Twitter, Netanyahu fingered Iran as being behind the thwarted drone attacks and said Israeli forces have been directed to “be prepared for any scenario.”
I have directed that our forces be prepared for any scenario. We will continue to take determined and responsible action against Iran and its proxies for the security of Israel.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) August 24, 2019
Following the Israeli airstrikes, the IDF reportedly deployed Iron Dome batteries in the north of the country to protect against any retaliatory rocket attacks from Iran-linked forces in Syria.
Reuters further reported on the Israeli preemptive strikes inside Syria:
Syrian state media said Syrian air defences intercepted “hostile targets” over Damascus, the capital, Saturday night. Witnesses in Damascus said they heard and saw explosions in the sky.
“The aggression is ongoing and air defences are confronting hostile targets and are downing most of them in the southern region,” state media outlet SANA said, indicating areas south of Damascus.
The Syrian army said in a statement that “the majority of the Israeli missiles were destroyed before reaching their targets.” Conricus, however, said the impact of the Israeli strikes was “significant.”
The IDF has carried out scores of strikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria but rarely takes direct responsibility for specific attacks beyond general statements affirming Israel’s right to self defense.
Last week, Netanyahu hinted at Israeli involvement in targeting Iranian facilities in Iraq and U.S. officials confirmed one Israeli strike last month against an Iranian weapons depot in Iraq.
In February 2018, the IDF reportedly downed an Iranian drone that had penetrated Israeli airspace with the Israeli military saying that the UAV was armed and was poised to carry out an attack inside the Jewish state. Aviation analysts described that Iranian drone as a new stealthy model similar in design to the American RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone that Iran claimed to have shot down and seized in December 2011.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.