As Iran was getting ready to launch its military exercises “Iqtidar 99” that started in Oman Sea and the north of the Indian Ocean, Israeli warplanes were attacking its militias as well as the Assad regime militias in the Syrian East, at the point where Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq meet.
The Israeli air strikes, at dawn of Wednesday January 13th, came less than 24 hours after another bombing targeted the same area, but this time it was more powerful. The Israeli aircraft carried out 18 strikes targeting weapons depots that belong to the Revolutionary Guards and Lebanese Hezbollah, as well as the Fatimiyoun militias. Dozens of military personnel were killed, while many Iranian depots were destroyed.
The Assad regime’s official news agency reported that Israeli warplanes conducted airstrikes after midnight on the city of Deir Ezzor and Albukamal in the southeastern countryside of Deir Ezzor.
Prior to the airstrikes, the US army dispatched military and logistic reinforces to its bases in Deir Ezzor. The US reinforces included more than 20 military vehicles, tanks and artillery, in addition to 50 soldiers.
Pro-Assad media reported that a huge convoy that belongs to the US army was heading from Hassaka to Deir Ezzor. Assads media said that the convoy contained more than 30 vehicles, including trucks that carried heavy weapons.
Following the mentioned events, the areas controlled by the Syrian regime and Iranian militias witnessed partial pullbacks for some military battalions in some open areas in Deir Ezzor.
Local sources revealed that pro-Iranian militias pulled their heavy weapons back from the sites and barracks on the countryside of Al-Mayadin and Albukamal, which are close to the Iraqi border. The weapons were regrouped within the residential compounds in the cities and towns, in the areas that are controlled by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and militias.
Iranian militias have evacuated more than 10 military points belonging to the farms of Al-Mayadin, the sources said.
On the countryside of Albukamal, the IRGC members at Imam Ali base, the largest military base of IRGC in this region, hid all heavy weapons, including missiles and armored vehicles.
Some groups that belong to the Lebanese Hezbollah, in addition to Fatimiyoun, Zainabiyoun, Regiment 47, and al-Baqer have participated in the regrouping operations, camouflaging their sites, and hiding their weapons and munition.
Large quantities of missile equipment were transported from Iraq to the IRGC sites, via the Al-Sikak crossing, east of Albukamal.
Last week, a drone targeted a vehicle belonging to the Iraqi Popular Mobilization militia, as it was trying to enter the Syrian territories, from an unofficial border crossing near the city of Albukamal. Four members who were in the vehicles were killed, while others were injured.
It seems that the Israeli heating up in the Syrian east is similar to that in the Lebanese front with Hezbollah, Israeli military source confirmed, according to media reports that Tel Aviv is on alert for any kind of move by the Hezbollah on the borders.
The military source added that Hezbollah is attempting to capture an Israeli soldier as a revenge for the official who was killed in a raid last September inside Syria.
As for the strikes targeting Iranian militias in Syria, the source said: “Israel has intensified and will continue to intensify raids in Syria. The current rate of raids comes to 3 within 10 days, but previously it was one strike every 3 weeks.” He points out that “the strikes are focused on Iranian and Syrian conventional missiles and radars, as Israel is aiming at leaving the more sophisticated missiles to down them later.”
The same military source excluded any direct confrontation with Iran, stressing that it has become weaker after the assassination of the Quds Force Commander, Qassem Soleimani.
The source pointed out that Tehran has not given up the attempts of responding to Soleimani’s assassination, by launching explosive missiles or drones from Iraq.
“The Iraqi region of al-Qaim contains long-range missiles, and there are also missiles in Yemen that may reach Eilat, and that is why Patriot batteries have been deployed there recently,” the source added.
The Israeli military source confirmed that there are daily contacts between the Israeli army and the Pentagon with the aim of following up on field developments, as any wrong calculations are capable of setting off a confrontation between the two parties.
Military Exercises in The Sea of Oman
As Iran is managing developments on the fields in Syria and Iraq through its militias, it is keen to show its strength through “Iqtidar 99” military exercise in The Sea of Oman and the northern Indian Ocean, through launching different ground-to-ground cruise missiles. It launched “torpedoes” from submarines, and conducted specialized training for special operations teams on the coast and in the sea. In addition, it conducted some drone operations, according to the Public Relations Department of the Army.
Admiral Amir Hamzah Ali Kafiani, spokesman for the exercises, said that the deployment of the forces took place in a very short period of time since the announcement they are participating.
He added that the exercises would enable the Iranian army to assess the ability to respond in a timely and effective manner against any possible conditions that may result from the threat of the enemy.
“We can provide an appropriate performance according to the level of threat, by removing weaknesses and enhancing points of strength,” he said.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps of the Iranian Army supervised the testing of long-range precision missiles in the Sea of Oman and the northern Indian Ocean, which were successfully completed.
The Allowance by the US administration and Israel for Iran to perform a power show and control the militias indicates that the confrontation between the two parties might take place on the Syrian soil and also on the Hezbollah front in Lebanon. The confrontation is governed by accurate calculations in which mistakes are not allowed, as it may lead – according to the Israeli military source – to a direct confrontation between the two sides, for which the time has not come yet.