Iranian transport plane had landed at Syrian base day before Israeli airstrike

Experts say Iran was behind attempted Syrian attacks on Israel over the last week, and yesterday’s bombing of Syria’s T4 base near Homs was Israel’s ready response.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel’s alleged bombing of the Syrian T4 airbase on Sunday was a “pre-planned” attack that was meant to send a message to Iran, various Middle East experts said on Monday. It took place a day after an Iranian transport plane had arrived at the base, Ynet reports.

Jerusalem has not confirmed that it was behind the airstrike, though it did confirm other attacks that took place on Sunday night. Syrian sources blamed Israel, claiming that Israeli warplanes had shot two missiles at the base. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, five soldiers were killed, three of them Syrian, when the ensuing explosions destroyed a rocket warehouse.

If Israel did carry out the attack, it was not because Syrians last week shot an anti-aircraft missile at an Israeli jet, or that they then fired two rockets at Mt. Hermon. The reason, Syria observer Prof. Eyal Zisser tells Israel Hayom, lies not in Damascus but Tehran.

The vice rector of Tel Aviv University told the paper that Syrian strongman Bashar Assad is still busy with the civil war in his country and “is really not dealing with fighting with us. It doesn’t interest him and it isn’t the center of his attention. Those who are able to launch such fire at us are Hezbollah or Iran, as part of their struggle with us – in which there is indeed a potential for a conflagration. The Iranians are more brazen, and are trying to hurt us.”

Zisser said that the bombing of the T4 base could not just have been a spur-of-the-moment retaliatory strike.

“The attack on the T4 airbase in the depths of Syria is one that necessitates a lot of preparation and pre-planning,” he said. “If it’s an Israeli attack, it’s likely a systematic and planned strike against the Iranians who continue to try to establish themselves in Syria despite our active opposition to them.”

The T4 base is well-known to Israel as a place where Iran has stored weapons meant for the Jewish state, and Jerusalem hit the base more than once last year as a result.

According to General (Res.) Amos Yadlin, this attack was also connected to an Iranian armaments build-up there, as an Iranian 747 had unloaded cargo at the site three times in the last week.

The head of the Institute for National Security Studies told Ynet that his organization regularly tracks the flights of these planes, which belong to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, via open sources on the internet.

“So I imagine that Israeli Intelligence also knows about the flights, what’s in the planes, and a decision was made to deal with them,” he said. “But at the end it’s all about the ‘war between the wars’ that Israel is conducting to prevent Iranian consolidation” in Syria.