Tehran will push Syria build-up
BEIRUT - Following Iran’s escalation of its attacks on Israel, Tehran is expected to continue building up its forces, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its paramilitary proxies, in war-torn Syria and to hit the Jewish state again.
This “second front” in Syria has been steadily developing for more than a year.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a prime Iranian asset, and its swelling army of Iraqi, Afghani and Pakistani Shias were key elements in Syrian President Bashar Assad’s success in recapturing much of the territory he lost to rebel forces.
The May 10 missile bombardment of Israel by the IRGC underlines that Tehran expects payback from Assad’s regime, namely a free hand to batter Israel and prepare for the showdown that analysts fear is inevitable.
Some accounts state that Tehran, which has poured billions of dollars and tens of thousands of fighters into Syria during the 7-year war to aid Assad, wants to build a network of air, ground and naval bases in Syria to project power throughout the Levant and possibly beyond.
Significantly, Israel’s military strategists who have long prevented Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from launching a major pre-emptive operation against Iranian forces in Syria, are now quiescent on that score as the threat on its northern border grows apace.
Israel claims Iran has provided Hezbollah with more than 150,000 missiles, many capable of reaching anywhere in the Jewish state, including all its urban centres and strategic zones.
Major missile strikes may be counterproductive in the current geopolitical climate, largely due to Israel’s superior air defences, so the Iranians’ options may focus on asymmetric and non-conventional retaliation, a strategy it has used before.