Message to Israel as They Ramp Up Nuclear Airstrike Plans?
Iran masterminded a "complex, coordinated and deliberate attack" last week when as many as five drones packed with explosives flew a kamikaze mission into the remote al-Tanf garrison that houses US troops in Syria near the Iraq-Jordan border, according to top US officials.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby would not disclose any details. There were no injuries or deaths reported, thanks in great measure, it seems, to being "tipped off" to the attack in advance and evacuating 200 troops by transport plane, according to Fox News reports. Kirby would not confirm the advance notice or whether or not the US plans to retaliate.
"The protection and security of our troops overseas remains a paramount concern for the Secretary (referring to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin) and that if there is to be a response, it will be at a time and a place in a manner of our choosing, and we certainly won't get ahead of those kinds of decisions," Kirby said.
US officials do not believe the drones were launched from Iran, but they were definitely Iranian-made and directed. This strike is the latest salvo in an ongoing shadow war in the region between Iran—through its proxies: Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis in Yemen, Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq, and Shia factions in Syria—and Israel and the US. Supposedly, this attack was in retaliation for a strike on historic Palmyra in Syria a few days earlier, an attack blamed on Israel, not the US, however.
Drones of all sizes, payload, and range capabilities are playing a prominent role in the measure-for-measure war being waged in the Middle East over the last three to five years. UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) have delivered deadly results on land and sea.
In an article in Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies last April, analysts reported that some Iranian drones can go quite a distance. The Houthis Wahid drone supposedly can fly 2500 kilometers (1550 miles), and the Samad model can go up to 1800 kilometers (around 620 miles).
Israel and Iran are only about 1000 kilometers (665 miles) apart. Experts caution that these types of drones require an Iron Dome-type of defense to successfully repel the threat.
It appears that Iran is testing the vulnerabilities of the US and Israel through its proxies. Hamas, in the war earlier this year with Israel, launched a few drones in addition to thousands of rockets.
Israel is focused on preparing for a likely military mission into Iran next year to destroy its budding nuclear program before they have an opportunity to destroy Israel.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is set to start training early next year for a strike at the heart of Iran's nuclear ambitions. Last week, the Israeli government reportedly designated billions of shekels to implement the plan.
In last month's speech before the United Nations, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, "Iran's nuclear program has hit a watershed moment, and so has our tolerance. Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning…We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon."
The mission will not be easy. The IAF will have to find a way to strike the nuclear facilities which are buried deep in the Earth and then manage to evade Iran's air defenses and get back home.