The Israel Defense Forces has attacked more than 50 targets belonging to Hezbollah and other Iran-backed terrorist groups in Syria since Oct. 7, military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari revealed on Saturday night.
“Since the beginning of the war, Hezbollah has been trying to divert our attention from the war in Gaza. It is doing so at the behest and with the backing of Iran,” Hagari said during a press briefing.
Last month, an IAF air strike killed a squad belonging to Hezbollah’s Golan File Unit, which operates near the Israeli border, collecting intelligence and carrying out cross-border attacks, Hagari said.
Israel has allegedly struck hundreds of targets in Syria in recent years as part of an effort to prevent further Iranian military entrenchment in the country. However, Jerusalem rarely acknowledges these attacks.
“Over the last four months, we have been waging a very intense battle on the northern front aimed at reshaping the security reality so that the residents of the north can safely return,” said Hagari, noting that some 80,000 Israelis have been displaced from their homes near the border.
In addition to thwarting Iranian arms shipments through Syria, Israeli forces have struck more than 3,400 Hezbollah targets “all over Southern Lebanon,” including 120 observation posts, 40 munition depots and an equal number of “military” headquarters, Hagari said.
“We will continue to act wherever Hezbollah is present; we will continue to act wherever it is required in the Middle East. What is true for Lebanon is true for Syria and is true for other more distant places,” he said, in a clear message to Hezbollah’s terrorist patrons in Tehran.
“We do not choose war as our preferred option, but we are certainly prepared,” Hagari warned. “We have learned a lot, and we are still learning, from the ground operation in the Gaza Strip—the IDF is a better army because of it, and we have incorporated these lessons into our attack plans in the north.”
Iran has removed senior officers of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from Syria following a series of deadly aerial attacks attributed to Israel, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter. Instead, the IRGC will manage its Syria operations remotely along with the assistance of Hezbollah, three sources said.
Following a situational assessment held in the Haifa bayside suburb of Kiryat Ata last week, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned that the Jewish state must seriously prepare for the possibility of a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“Alongside the military preparedness that we are advancing, and alongside the process that we are trying to lead in the political-diplomatic efforts, we are also preparing in the civilian sphere and the [IDF] Home Front Command has received clear instructions,” he said.
If conditions on Israel’s northern border deteriorate further, “the situation in Haifa will not be good, but in Beirut, the situation will be devastating,” Gallant added.
On Friday, the United States attacked Iranian proxy targets in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for an Iran-backed attack in Jordan that killed three U.S. soldiers earlier last week.
“This afternoon, at my direction, U.S. military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC and affiliated militia use to attack U.S. forces,” President Joe Biden said. “Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing.”
Terrorist groups backed by the IRCG were responsible for the drone attack in Jordan, said Biden.