Iran and its allies have taken a beating in Syria according to recent reports.
Perhaps the most spectacular was the airstrike overnight that killed the notorious child killer, Samir Kuntar and eight other terrorists in a Damascus suburb. Prof. Jacobson rightly called Kuntar “among the most notorious and vicious terrorists,” for shooting Danny Haran to death in front of his four year old daughter, Einat, and then killed her by smashing her head against a rock with his rifle butt.
Needless to say Kuntar was treated as a hero by Hezbollah, who traded the bodies of IDF soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, to free Kuntar in 2008. He also received the Syrian Order of Merit from Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad shortly after his release.
But Kuntar’s killing is just a symptom of the recently reported problems plaguing Iran and its allies who are backing Assad.
Early last week it was reported that as many as one-third of Hezbollah’s fighting force have been killed or wounded in Syria. That was followed by a report on Friday that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had withdrawn most of its troops from Syria after suffering dozens of casualties. The withdrawal of the Iranians has put additional pressure on Hezbollah as the Russian airstrikes have not been as decisive as Hezbollah had hoped.
Avi Issacharoff pointed out two weaknesses exposed by the recent news. On an operational level he wrote, “the assassination is further evidence — after the assassination of Jihad Mughniyeh in January and the killing of Hassan al-Laqis in December 2013 — of the ease with which intelligence services can infiltrate the organization.”
The other is a manpower shortage about which he wrote, “In the past few months, Hezbollah has launched a massive draft of youths 17 and older to make up for its losses. However, the recruits are not at the same level as the trained and sophisticated fighters that filled its ranks just a few years ago.” Thus he doesn’t expect that Hezbollah will seek an all out war with Israel right now.
To be sure Hezbollah is still a threat to Israel with a massive terror infrastructure in place, financed by Iran (especially in the wake of the nuclear deal), as the red alert sirens in northern Israel (including Nahariya, the scene of Kuntar’s crime) today attest. The Jerusalem Post reports that the IDF believes that three rockets landed in Israel causing no injuries.
Iran supports Assad to maintain a land connection to Lebanon and Israel’s border. In recent weeks the cost of that support has gone up.
Samir Kuntar’s dead, but the Iranian threat, however degraded is still there.
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