Skip to content
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Israel Escalated Attacks on Iranian and Hizbullah Targets in Syria

Filed under: Iran, Syria

Israel Escalated Attacks on Iranian and Hizbullah Targets in Syria
The damaged al-Tanf base in southern Syria is seen a day after it was apparently struck by Iranian drones, on October 20, 2021. (Courtesy, via Aurora Intel)
  • Israel increased its attacks on Iranian and Hizbullah targets in Syria to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hizbullah and as part of its response to the bomb attack at Megiddo Junction in northern Israel.
  • In the most recent attacks in Syria, senior Iranian military advisors were killed, and Israel fears Iranian revenge and attacks on Israeli ships in the Arabian Sea.
  • The Israeli Air Force intercepted and shot down an unmanned drone launched by Hizbullah or Iran’s Revolutionary Guards after it crossed from Syria on April 2.

On April 2, 2023, Israel attacked several targets of the Syrian army and the Iranian militias in the Homs region of Syria. The Syrian media reported that five military personnel were injured in the attack.

A Syrian opposition organization stated that one of the targets attacked was a military base where Hizbullah operatives are located. It was Israel’s third attack in four days and the ninth attack on Hizbullah and Iranian soldiers in Syria since the beginning of the year.

Israel also increased attacks on Iranian and Hizbullah targets as part of the Israeli response to the March 13, 2023, bomb attack at the Megiddo Junction, for which Iran and Hizbullah are suspected.

At the end of last week, Israeli missiles hit the bases of the Syrian army and the Iranian militias west of Damascus. According to sources in the Syrian opposition, five Iranian Revolutionary Guards were killed in the attack.

In an unusual announcement, the Iranians officially said that the Israeli attack killed Milad Heydari, a military adviser to the Revolutionary Guards in Syria. His photo was also published in Iran’s media in an unusual move.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard officer Milad Heydari killed in Syria
Iranian Revolutionary Guard officer Milad Heydari killed in Syria. His published photo shows his rank as captain.

According to security sources in Israel, Heydari directed terrorist attacks against Israel. According to Western intelligence sources, he was a senior officer in the cyber force of the Revolutionary Guards and was also involved in the precision missile project intended for Hizbullah.

Sources in the Israeli security establishment said the attack was intended to damage a shipment of electronic components from Iran for Hizbullah’s precision missile project.

The inordinate Iranian regime’s media attention to Heydari’s death leads to speculation that he was related to Brigadier General Kioumars Heydari.

Iranian officials visiting Heydari’s mourning family
Iranian officials visiting Heydari’s mourning family. Was one of the visitors General Kioumars Heydari, commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces?

Iran submitted an official protest to the UN over the killing of Milad Heydari and warned of escalation.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry claimed that the Israeli attack in Syria was an attempt to divert attention from the internal crisis in Israel.

Little Iranian media attention has been paid to a second Iranian military adviser, Meghdad Maghani, who was killed at the same time.

Meghdad Maghani
Meghdad Maghani, also an Iranian military advisor, was killed in Syria. His insignia appears to be that of an officer cadet.

General Kioumars Heydari, commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces, said on April 1, 2023, that Iran is ready to act against any possible attack and emphasized that Iran will respond strongly to any attack in a fraction of a second.

Israel’s security establishment estimates that Iran will not sit quietly over the death of Milad Haidari and is looking for ways to respond with alacrity to his death. One estimate is that Iran will try to use drones to attack one of the Israeli-owned ships engaged in transferring goods in the Arabian Sea.

The Iranians may also respond by attacking American bases in Syria and Iraq, such as the American base in Tanf, in the border triangle of Syria, Jordan and Iraq, or the American Al-Omar base in the gas field east of the Euphrates River in Syria.

Iran is waging a war of attrition against the American military presence in Syria, trying to force the United States to withdraw the soldiers stationed in Syria, who number about 900 soldiers.

Israel Is Vigilant for Iranian Weapons

Israel is greatly concerned about the advanced weapons that Iran smuggles into Syria for Hizbullah, especially equipment intended for precision-guided missiles. In recent weeks, Iran has increased the smuggling of electronic components for this project.

Since the February 6, 2023, earthquake in Turkey, Iranian planes have ostensibly delivered “humanitarian aid” to Syria destined for Turkish victims. However, Israel has accurate information about the arms shipments from Iran to Syria and attacks them as soon as they land in Syrian territory and before the Syrians transfer them to Lebanon.

Israel has a clear operational and intelligence advantage over Syria and uses it to act against Iranian militias and Hizbullah in Syria. However, it refrains from attacking Hizbullah targets in Lebanon to prevent an escalation and deterioration of the security situation that could lead to a round of fighting against Hizbullah in Lebanon or an all-out war, especially during the month of Ramadan.