A senior IDF official admitted to The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that Israel targeted the Iranian drone command center at the T4 air base in Syria last week. “It was the first time we attacked live Iranian targets — both facilities and people,” said the IDF official.
The official noted that the armed Iranian drone that infiltrated Israel “opened a new period,” saying that “this is the first time we saw Iran do something against Israel — not by proxy.”
During the attack, Israel eliminated seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force members, including Colonel Mehdi Dehghan, who led the drone unit operating out of T4, east of Homs.
The downed Iranian drone was armed with explosives and on its way to carry out an attack, the IDF said.
By unveiling last week that the Iranian drone that entered the Jordan Valley through Syrian airspace was to be used to carry out an attack, Israel wanted to send a message to all of the actors involved—mainly Russia—regarding the fact that Iran is now directly and openly operating against Israel in belligerent actions both on and above the ground.
The IDF is therefore permitted to do its part to stop the Iranian entrenchment in Syria.
However, Israel was still doing its due diligence to prevent a possible Iranian retaliatory strike by sending messages through indirect channels, conveying the reasons such a strike will only harm all those involved.
If such a strike was to take place, Israel believed, Iranians in Syria will once again be attacked, Syria itself will be punished for allowing the retaliation to be launched from its territory and Russia will find it hard to attain stability in Syria so long as Iran is using it as staging grounds for terrorism.