Iran-backed forces including Hezbollah withdrawing from Syria after IDF strikes

The withdrawal comes on the heels of a reported demand by Russia for Iranian proxies to leave positions across Syria to avoid Israeli strikes.

By Debbie Reiss, World Israel News

Pro-Iranian forces including Hezbollah have begun to to withdraw from Syria following as a result of Israeli airstrikes in recent weeks, a senior IDF officer told reporters on Thursday.

The targets included two international airports in Aleppo and Damascus earlier this month, in an attempt to stop the smuggle of weapons to Iranian proxies, especially Hezbollah, which has more than 15 bases in Syria.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday that Iran had transformed the Scientific Studies and Research Center (CERS) into factories for producing advanced missiles for Hezbollah.

“Iran transformed CERS into production facilities for mid- and long-range precise missiles and weapons,” Gantz said, noting that the project was the vision of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force who was assassinated by the U.S. under the Trump administration.

“The sites that I reveal to you on the map, and in particular the underground site in Masyaf where precision missiles are manufactured, constitute a significant potential threat to the region and to Israel,” Gantz said.

The Iranian withdrawal identified by the IDF comes on the heels of a report in the Saudi-owned a-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper that said Russia had demanded that the Iranians withdrew from several key positions in Syria, to avoid Israeli strikes near Russian military sites.

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Israel has for close to ten years fought to counter Tehran’s hegemonic aspirations in a covert, war between the wars campaing known in Hebrew as mabam.

Mabam effectively “destroyed” Soleimani’s vision, the Jerusalem Post reported citing a senior IDF official, which was to establish missile bases, anti-aircraft and intelligence bases as well as build a force similar to Hezbollah in Syria.