Israel has attacked Iranian bases in Syria to preempt the launch of a squadron of bomb-loaded attack drones that were in the final preparations for launch.

The planned drone attack was personally supervised by Iranian Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, according to the Israel Defense forces, which in an unusual move took to Twitter to announce the preemptive attack:

The IDF followed up with a taunt of Soleimani, letting him know they were following his movements the entire time:

This purports to be video of the aftermath (unverified).

The Times of Israel reports:

According to IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, four members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s Quds Force were sent to Syria to form a team that would fly explosive-laden kamikaze drones into targets in northern Israel.

“Each one of these attack drones would carry several kilograms of explosives,” he said.

Conricus said the military has been monitoring the Iranian plot for “a number of weeks.”

When the IDF spotted the Iran-led team — made up of the four IRGC advisers and Shiite militiamen — moving to launch the drones on Saturday night, the Israeli Air Force took action and bombed their base.

“Thanks to a substantial intelligence effort, an Iranian attack was thwarted and harm to Israel was prevented,” the head of Military Intelligence Tamir Heyman said in a statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu also tweeted about the attack:

In a major operational effort, we have thwarted an attack against Israel by the Iranian Quds Force & Shi’ite militias. I reiterate: Iran has no immunity anywhere. Our forces operate in every sector against the Iranian aggression. “If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first.”

I have directed that our forces be prepared for any scenario. We will continue to take determined and responsible action against Iran and its proxies for the security of Israel.

Why the Israeli publicity campaign this time, when it usually stays silent? My guess is because there were substantial casualties among Iranian and Hezbollah operatives, and Israel is expecting retaliation from Iran and Hezbollah. So it wanted to lay the groundwork as to why it attacked.

Joe Truzman reports that at least two Hezbollah members were killed in the attack:

Hezbollah also is asserting that an Israeli drone crashed in the Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut, through analysts suggest it might have been an Iranian drone.

Amos Harel at Haaretz reports the planned drone attack was Iran’s attempt to get back at Israel for Israeli bombing of Iranian weapons depots in Iraq.

What form is retaliation likely to take? My guess is that it will come from Hezbollah,the scale to be determined. If Hezbollah does not want a major confrontation, and consistent with past practice, the retaliation will involve a rocket attack on an IDF vehicle in territory Israeli controls but Lebanon claims is its along the Israel-Syrian-Lebanese borders.


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