Israel released details on Tuesday about what it described as an Iranian “air force” deployed in neighbouring Syria, including civilian planes suspected of transferring arms, a signal that these could be attacked should tensions with Tehran escalate.
Iran, along with Damascus and its big-power backer Russia, blamed Israel for an April 9 air strike on a Syrian air base, T-4, that killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) members. Iranian officials have promised unspecified reprisals.
Israeli media ran satellite images and a map of five Syrian air bases allegedly used to field Iranian drones or cargo aircraft, as well as the names of three senior IRGC officers suspected of commanding related projects, such as missile units.
The information came from the Israeli military, according to a wide range of television and radio stations and news websites. Israel’s military spokesman declined to comment.
However, an Israeli security official seemed to acknowledge the leak was sanctioned, telling Reuters that it provided details about “the IRGC air force (which) the Israeli defence establishment sees as the entity that will try to attack Israel, based on Iranian threats to respond to the strike on T-4.”
The official, who requested anonymity, would not elaborate.
Israel’s Army Radio reported that, given tensions with Iran over Syria, the Israeli air force cancelled plans to send F-15 fighter jets to take part in the US-hosted exercise Red Flag, which begins on April 30.