Israel: For first time, Iran is retreating from Syria

Israeli defense officials say they are seeing Iran retreat for the first time since it entered Syria to help President Bashar al-Assad.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

“Iran has turned from being an asset for Syria to being a burden. For the first time since Iran entered Syria, it’s shrinking its forces and evacuating bases,” senior Israeli defense officials said on Tuesday at a news briefing, adding that “Israel will increase the pressure.”

The comments were made following reports of an airstrike on two military facilities in Syria overnight Monday. Israel did not take responsibility for the attack but Syria blamed it. Fourteen were reported killed by a Syrian war monitoring group.

That attack joins at least five others last month that were attributed to Israel, the most recent last Monday, April 27 in which seven were reported killed and an ammunition dump destroyed.

“Syria is paying higher prices because of the Iranian presence in its territory, for a war which is not its own. Iran has become a burden to Syria,” the officials said.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday, “We are determined, more determined, and I will tell you why – for Iran, Syria is an adventure 1,000 miles from home. For us, it is life. We are much more determined.”

”We will not give up and will not allow the establishment of a forward Iranian base in Syria,” Bennett said.

Israel has carried out hundreds of attacks in Syrian territory, mainly targeting Iranian forces and installations. Israel has made clear it won’t tolerate Iranian entrenchment on Syrian soil.

Ynet reports that at the height of the civil war, five years ago, Iran sent thousands of fighters and advisers to assist Syrian President Bashar al-Assad battle ISIS and other rebels.

However, Iranian force remained and continued to strengthen its forces in the country in what analysts say is part of a strategy to build a land bridge of Iranian influence to the Mediterranean. Such a land bridge would encompass Israel on its northern border.