Israel has no longer limited their attacks against Iran to just Syria, a new report from Asharq Al-Aswat claimed on Tuesday.
Citing western diplomatic source, the Saudi-based publication alleged that Israeli warplanes attacked Hashd Al-Shaabi’s (Popular Mobilization Units) base in the Salaheddine Governorate of Iraq on July 19.
According to the diplomatic source, the Israeli Air Force used their new F-35 stealth fighter jets to carry out the attack.
Asharq Al-Aswat then referenced an alleged attack by the Israeli Air Force on Hashd Al-Shaabi’s Ashraf base, which was previously used by the dissident People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK)
Israeli drones and aircraft struck a number of Iran-allied militia groups in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon over the course of 48 hours, in an escalation which has raised fears of a wider conflict.
The Israeli military has been carrying out airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria for some time in an effort to curtail its regional footprint, but it now appears to have widened the theatre of operations for its air campaign to include Iraq and Lebanon, at least temporarily.
A suspected Israeli strike in Iraq last month targeted a base of Shiite militias allied to Iran — in what would be the first attack to be carried out by Israel in Iraq since 1981. Israel remained mum, and U.S. officials who linked the strike to Israel did not say if drones were involved.
Israel, meanwhile, acknowledged striking Syria on Saturday night, in what it described as a pre-emptive attack. The military said it prevented an effort by Iran to position so-called killer drones ahead of an attack on Israel.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah disputed the Israeli version in a speech later Sunday, saying the Israeli strikes hit a Hezbollah rest house and killed two of the group's members. He said that going forward, any Israeli drones that enter Lebanon would be shot down.
The statement comes hours after the chief of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, took to Twitter to say that Israeli airstrikes in Syria and the crash of two alleged Israeli drones in Lebanon "were the last struggles" of Israel.
Iranian authorities have issued an ominous warning to Israel, saying that it should understand that its recent "aggressive actions
" in the region will have consequences, as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have the right for self-defence.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Sunday condemned Israel for allegedly sending drones that fell over southern Beirut, calling it a “blatant attack on Lebanon’s sovereignty.”
“This new aggression… forms a threat to regional stability and an attempt to push the situation towards more tension,” Hariri said in a statement.
Hariri also charged that it was in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and terror group Hezbollah.
A Hezbollah spokesman said earlier that an armed Israeli drone exploded outside the organization’s propaganda offices in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, causing damage to the structure. Another Hezbollah spokesman said later that a second drone crashed, causing no damage, and was being studied by the terror group. He denied reports that Hezbollah had shot down the drones.
The Israel Defense Forces said it does not comment on “foreign reports.”
Senior US officials yesterday told the New York Times
that Israel has carried out “several strikes [in Iraq] in recent days”, the most recent of which took place
on Monday near the Balad Airbase, north of Iraqi capital Baghdad.
The US officials’ comments confirm weeks of speculation that Israel was responsible for the multiple attacks on Iraqi targets which have taken place in recent months.
In the past three months, four attacks on weapons depots have taken place. Three of these bases were being used by the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), an umbrella organisation of Shia paramilitary groups technically under the authority of the Iraqi Security Forces, though many operate semi-autonomously.
The weekend marked a precipitous escalation in Netanyahu’s promise to attack all perceived “enemies.” From Saturday evening into late Sunday afternoon, Israel carried out strikes against three separate nations, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. By Monday morning, he had also attacked forces from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, as well as Palestinians from the PFLP-GC. That’s a lot of enemies to wage war against all at once.Rumors of Israeli attacks against targets in Iraq over the last few weeks came to a head last week, when US and Israeli officials confirmed
that the attacks were taking place. This led to some complaints from Iraqi officials, but Israel is hardly backing away from this policy.
Indeed, with Israel’s election less than a month away and Prime Minister Netanyahu and his allies trailing substantially in most polls, it appears the policy is to escalate its attacks across the region, hoping to secure more votes from the hawkish right.