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Israeli officials claim Iran pulling out of Syria amid intensified airstrikes Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Israeli officials claim Iran pulling out of Syria amid intensified airstrikes

Iranian weapons transfers to Syria have been cut down, the officials claimed [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 May, 2020

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The most recent Israeli strikes have targeted Iran-backed militia fighters and a Hezbollah arms depot in Syria.
Iran is moving to close its military bases in Syria and could be looking to pull out of the country altogether, after an uptick in deadly strikes on Iranian-linked forces, Israeli defence officials have claimed.

Israel has in recent months intensfied its strikes on Iranian-linked militias and bases in Syria, although Israel rarely claims responsibility for the attacks.

The most recent strikes overnight on Monday reportedly killed 14 Iranian and Iraqi militia fighters in the country's east, as well as targeting a Syrian military base and research centre reportedly involved in chemical weapons development.

Israeli defense officials told The Times of Israel that the recent uptick in strikes has forced Tehran to withdraw some of its forces from the war-torn country.

Iranian forces have been evacuated from a small number of military bases in Syria, the anonymous officials claimed.

The number of Iranian military cargo flight carrying munitions into the country have also dropped signficantly over the past six months, the officials added.

They claimed the reduction in cargo flights are the result of Israeli strikes on airports where the flights would normally land.

As well as targeting Iran-linked militant groups who fight alongside Bashar al-Assad's forces, such as Lebanon's Hezbollah, Israeli strikes have also targeted regime air defence systems.

Israel wants to send Syria a message that Iranian forces are a burden rather than an asset. "Syria is paying a growing price for the Iranian presence in its territory, for a war that isn't [Syria's]," the officials said.

They added that the Israeli military intends to continue strikes on Iran-linked forces in Syria until they leave the country for good.

The officials said the recent successes in countering Iran's presence in the country were also linked to the assassination of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike earlier this year.

Israel has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011, targeting regime troops, allied Iranian forces and Hezbollah fighters.

Despite rarely acknowledging the strikes, Tel Aviv contends that the presence of Tehran-linked forces on its borders consitute a severe threat to Israel.

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