Iran's half hearted 'retaliation' for Israel strikes leads to massive IDF counterstrike

 Yesterday, Israeli warplanes struck an Iranian missile depot in Syria, killing at least 7 members of the Revolutionary Guard. Iran vowed retaliation and today, they launched at least 20 rockets at Israeli positions on the Golan Heights. It was the first time Iran responded to an Israeli strike by launching an attack on Israeli soil.

In response, the IDF launched a massive retaliatory strike that targeted all of Iran's military infrastructure.

Reuters:

It was the heaviest Israeli barrage in Syria since the start in 2011 of its civil war, in which Iranians, allied Shi’ite militias and Russian soldiers have deployed in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria’s Army Command said three people were killed and two injured. A war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the strikes killed at least 23 military personnel, including Syrians and non-Syrians.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Iranian rockets either fell short of their targets, military bases in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, or were intercepted.

Expectations of a regional flare-up, amid warnings from Israel it was determined to prevent Iranian military entrenchment in Syria, were stoked by U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Tuesday that he was withdrawing from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.

The Trump administration portrayed its position against that agreement as a response, in part, to Tehran’s military interventions in the region - underpinning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tough line towards Iran.

The Golan attack was “just further demonstration that the Iranian regime cannot be trusted and another good reminder that the president made the right decision to get out of the Iran deal,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News.

Israel said 20 Iranian Grad and Fajr rockets were shot down by its Iron Dome air defense system or did not reach targets in the Golan, territory Israel captured from Syria in a 1967 war.

The Quds Force, an external arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, carried out the launch, Israel said.

The rockets Iran used in their rather pathetic "retaliation" were among the least sophisticated in Iran's arsenal. They are not very accurate and have a low explosive yield.

So Iran delivered a pinprick and Israel lowered the boom:

Syrian state media said Israel launched dozens of missiles and hit a radar station, Syrian air defense positions and an ammunition dump, underscoring the risks of a wider escalation involving Iran and its regional allies.

Russia’s defense ministry said Syria had shot down more than half of the missiles fired by Israel, RIA news agency reported.

“We hit ... almost all of the Iranian infrastructure in Syria,” Lieberman said, in a question and answer session at the annual Herzliya security conference in Tel Aviv. “I hope we finished this chapter and everyone got the message.”

Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters the Iranian attack was “commanded and ordered by (Quds Force chief General) Qassem Soleimani and it has not achieved its purpose”.

Conricus said Israel responded by destroying dozens of Iranian military sites in Syria, as well as Syrian anti-aircraft units that tried unsuccessfully to shoot down Israeli planes.

“We do not know yet the (Iranian) casualty count,” he said.

“But I can say that in terms of our purpose, we focused less on personnel and more on capabilities and hardware ... to inflict long-term damage on the Iranian military establishment in Syria. We assess it will take substantial time to replenish.”

What are we to make of Iran's feeble response? Perhaps the Iranians were hoping that a mild retaliation would lead to restraint by Israel. If they did, they're dumber than they talk. Instead, perhaps we should consider that Iran feels well and truly trapped between Israel's increasing pressure on their presence in Syria and the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, giving the US a free hand to make the Iranians howl.

A rock and a hard place. Iran may have been constrained by the simple equation of military power arrayed against them. A more vigorous response to Israel's attacks might have led to an even more dangerous escalation with Israel - an escalation that might have included targets on Iranian soil. And standing by supporting Israel would  be the US (and maybe Saudi Arabia). In a conflict, Iran would have no chance and the regime's survival would have been an open question.

A wild card to be considered are the Russians. At about the time Israeli warplanes and missiles were raining destruction in Iran's infrastructure in Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Moscow meeting with President Putin. 

Bloomberg:

The Russian president hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the annual Red Square military parade, hours before Israeli forces struck dozens of Iranian targets inside Syria.

Netanyahu did his best to please, wearing on his lapel a brown-and-black St. George’s ribbon, a symbol of Russian World War II remembrance that has come to be the banner of the Kremlin’s intervention in Ukraine.

He had a big ask: That Putin not deliver advanced air-defense missiles to Syria, a move that could threaten Israel’s aerial dominance.

For now, Moscow seems willing to let the Jewish state mount limited strikes. While Iran is a key ally in the Syrian war, the Kremlin doesn’t want it to get too powerful. Russian officials are also worried about the risk of escalation, especially with thousands of Russian troops based there.

Putin has a vested interest in keeping Iran in his corner, and is sending a top diplomat today to Tehran for talks.

There is no love lost between Iran and Russia. They don't trust each other, and Putin fears Iranian influence on their puppet President Assad. Putin is apparently willing to look the other way while Israel whittles Iran down to size in Syria - as long as Russian troops or Assad's control aren't threatened.

If Iran is serious about retaliating against Israel, they are going to have to do better than 20 inferior rockets fired at Israel's military perimeter. But Tehran might have little choice. With their economy so bad that workers around the country are striking for not getting paid, and unemployment at 20%, Iran simply can't afford to go to war with anyone, much less a far more powerful neighbor like Israel.

 

 Yesterday, Israeli warplanes struck an Iranian missile depot in Syria, killing at least 7 members of the Revolutionary Guard. Iran vowed retaliation and today, they launched at least 20 rockets at Israeli positions on the Golan Heights. It was the first time Iran responded to an Israeli strike by launching an attack on Israeli soil.

In response, the IDF launched a massive retaliatory strike that targeted all of Iran's military infrastructure.

Reuters:

It was the heaviest Israeli barrage in Syria since the start in 2011 of its civil war, in which Iranians, allied Shi’ite militias and Russian soldiers have deployed in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria’s Army Command said three people were killed and two injured. A war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the strikes killed at least 23 military personnel, including Syrians and non-Syrians.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Iranian rockets either fell short of their targets, military bases in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, or were intercepted.

Expectations of a regional flare-up, amid warnings from Israel it was determined to prevent Iranian military entrenchment in Syria, were stoked by U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Tuesday that he was withdrawing from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.

The Trump administration portrayed its position against that agreement as a response, in part, to Tehran’s military interventions in the region - underpinning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tough line towards Iran.

The Golan attack was “just further demonstration that the Iranian regime cannot be trusted and another good reminder that the president made the right decision to get out of the Iran deal,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News.

Israel said 20 Iranian Grad and Fajr rockets were shot down by its Iron Dome air defense system or did not reach targets in the Golan, territory Israel captured from Syria in a 1967 war.

The Quds Force, an external arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, carried out the launch, Israel said.

The rockets Iran used in their rather pathetic "retaliation" were among the least sophisticated in Iran's arsenal. They are not very accurate and have a low explosive yield.

So Iran delivered a pinprick and Israel lowered the boom:

Syrian state media said Israel launched dozens of missiles and hit a radar station, Syrian air defense positions and an ammunition dump, underscoring the risks of a wider escalation involving Iran and its regional allies.

Russia’s defense ministry said Syria had shot down more than half of the missiles fired by Israel, RIA news agency reported.

“We hit ... almost all of the Iranian infrastructure in Syria,” Lieberman said, in a question and answer session at the annual Herzliya security conference in Tel Aviv. “I hope we finished this chapter and everyone got the message.”

Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters the Iranian attack was “commanded and ordered by (Quds Force chief General) Qassem Soleimani and it has not achieved its purpose”.

Conricus said Israel responded by destroying dozens of Iranian military sites in Syria, as well as Syrian anti-aircraft units that tried unsuccessfully to shoot down Israeli planes.

“We do not know yet the (Iranian) casualty count,” he said.

“But I can say that in terms of our purpose, we focused less on personnel and more on capabilities and hardware ... to inflict long-term damage on the Iranian military establishment in Syria. We assess it will take substantial time to replenish.”

What are we to make of Iran's feeble response? Perhaps the Iranians were hoping that a mild retaliation would lead to restraint by Israel. If they did, they're dumber than they talk. Instead, perhaps we should consider that Iran feels well and truly trapped between Israel's increasing pressure on their presence in Syria and the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, giving the US a free hand to make the Iranians howl.

A rock and a hard place. Iran may have been constrained by the simple equation of military power arrayed against them. A more vigorous response to Israel's attacks might have led to an even more dangerous escalation with Israel - an escalation that might have included targets on Iranian soil. And standing by supporting Israel would  be the US (and maybe Saudi Arabia). In a conflict, Iran would have no chance and the regime's survival would have been an open question.

A wild card to be considered are the Russians. At about the time Israeli warplanes and missiles were raining destruction in Iran's infrastructure in Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Moscow meeting with President Putin. 

Bloomberg:

The Russian president hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the annual Red Square military parade, hours before Israeli forces struck dozens of Iranian targets inside Syria.

Netanyahu did his best to please, wearing on his lapel a brown-and-black St. George’s ribbon, a symbol of Russian World War II remembrance that has come to be the banner of the Kremlin’s intervention in Ukraine.

He had a big ask: That Putin not deliver advanced air-defense missiles to Syria, a move that could threaten Israel’s aerial dominance.

For now, Moscow seems willing to let the Jewish state mount limited strikes. While Iran is a key ally in the Syrian war, the Kremlin doesn’t want it to get too powerful. Russian officials are also worried about the risk of escalation, especially with thousands of Russian troops based there.

Putin has a vested interest in keeping Iran in his corner, and is sending a top diplomat today to Tehran for talks.

There is no love lost between Iran and Russia. They don't trust each other, and Putin fears Iranian influence on their puppet President Assad. Putin is apparently willing to look the other way while Israel whittles Iran down to size in Syria - as long as Russian troops or Assad's control aren't threatened.

If Iran is serious about retaliating against Israel, they are going to have to do better than 20 inferior rockets fired at Israel's military perimeter. But Tehran might have little choice. With their economy so bad that workers around the country are striking for not getting paid, and unemployment at 20%, Iran simply can't afford to go to war with anyone, much less a far more powerful neighbor like Israel.