Tel Aviv: Iran will continue to attack the US forces deployed in Syria. The new alliance between Iran and Russia gives Tehran the feeling that it can perform attacks on US forces without fearing a massive retaliation on its soil, according to the assessment of top Israeli experts.
Israel, according to defence sources shares with the US, intelligence relevant to the American offensive against the Iranian militias in Syria. The United States has approximately 900 troops deployed in Syria. Their primary mission is to support local partner forces in the fight against ISIS and to ensure the continued stability of north-eastern Syria. Additionally, US forces in Syria are involved in training, advising, and assisting local forces, as well as providing artillery and air support.
The situation in Syria is complex and constantly evolving, and the mission of the US forces in Syria is subject to change based on the ongoing security situation in the region. The withdrawal of US forces from Syria has been a topic of discussion in recent years, but as of now, the US remains committed to its mission in the region. It is important to note that the presence of US forces in Syria is not without controversy, as questions have been raised about the US’s role in the conflict and the potential for escalation or unintended consequences.
In recent years, Washington has scaled back its previously more significant involvement in Syria. In spite of this it has continued to play a small role in some regions, ostensibly to combat ISIL (ISIS) and reduce Iran’s influence there.
Dr Mordechai Kedar, a senior Israeli expert on Middle East and Gulf issues told Raksha Anirveda that Iran sees the US as a “Paper Tiger” and all their actions including those in Syria are a result of that perception.
“They see how the US is crawling in an attempt to sign a new nuclear agreement while they continue their galloping to the bomb. They see how the US and Europe, except for sending weapons systems does not help Ukraine against Russia and they see the US has deserted the Gulf states.”
Kedar said that one recent result of that perception brought Saudi Arabia to renew its diplomatic relations with Iran.
An Iranian security spokeswoman has warned that after the reported deaths of 19 individuals in American operations on Syria, strikes on bases with ties to Iran will be greeted with a “immediate counter-response.”
Keyvan Khosravi made the comments following one of the worst encounters between American and Iranian-aligned forces in recent memory, which saw the US launch a number of strikes against targets in Syria affiliated with Iran.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, American airstrikes on pro-Iran installations resulted in the deaths of five non-Syrian fighters who were allied with the government, 11 Syrian fighters in pro-government militias, and three Syrian army. Tit-for-tat attacks have continued between the US military and Iranian-backed forces in Syria, who threaten more strikes as US vows to protect its personnel.
There were no statement from the Iranian officials by mid-day Saturday, last week in Tehran, while Tasnim news agency affiliated to the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) carried the news of events in Syria without any comments by Iranian officials.
After a suicide drone attack against a US base in north-eastern Syria resulted in the death of a US contractor and the injury of multiple service members, the US launched at least one significant airstrike early on Friday, last week – reported the Iran international website operated by the Iranian opposition from London.
Apparently, later on Friday last week in response to a second assault by militias under the authority of Iran, the US launched further retaliation attacks. It is unclear if they were missile strikes or airstrikes. Ten missiles “targeted coalition forces” on Friday morning at around 8:05 local time, according to a statement from the US Central Command.
The statement, signed by the Iranian Advisory Committee in Syria, said US strikes had left several fighters dead and wounded, without specifying their nationality. “We have the capability to respond if our centres and forces in Syria are targeted,” the statement said.
At least 16 people were killed in the first US retaliatory attack, mostly local or non-Iranian personnel, while the identity of four casualties remain unknown.
After the US launched airstrikes against militants backed by Iran, President Joe Biden issued a warning to Iran on Friday, saying that the country will “act decisively” to defend Americans. “Make no mistake: the United States does not … seek conflict with Iran but be prepared for us to act forcefully to protect our people,” Biden told reporters during a visit to Canada.
Earlier, US officials had emphasised that the retaliatory strike was a measured response to the attack on the US base, but the follow-up attacks by Iranian-supported forces posed the question if more serious retaliation is needed to deter Iran.
Sima Shine, a senior researcher in the Israel Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) told Raksha Anirveda that Tehran feels that the new relations with Russia and Saudi Arabia gives Iran a new set of guarantees to be more aggressive towards the US.
Sima Shine is currently the head of Iran program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). For most of her career, Shine served in the Israeli Intelligence Community. Her last position was Head of the Research & Evaluation Division of the Mossad.
“Add to this the Chinese part in re-establishing the official relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia and you can understand the recent attacks on US forces in Syria . If you add to this the fact that as the Americans show time after time that they want to get out of the region, the picture becomes very clear. Tehran thinks that by repeatedly attacking the US forces in Syria they will accelerates the full withdrawal of them,” she added.