Iranian factions evacuate largest base in eastern Syria. Unidentified gunmen kill Iranian security official

EASTERN SYRIA – After the Sochi meeting in October between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Iranian Revolutionary Guard factions in eastern Syria have begun to evacuate their largest military base, the Imam Ali base in the city of al-Bukamal on the Iraqi-Syrian border. The Iranian factions have transferred nearly a 100 officers and men from Imam Ali’s base to Iraqi territory.

It is assumed the withdrawal is done out of fear of being bombed after the Russian-Israeli meeting in which the two sides agreed to continue to curb Iranian influence in Syria. Israel, with hundreds of thousands of Russian-descent citizens, and Russia, which actively entered the Syrian war in 2015 to save the crumbling Ba’ath regime, have a common interest in keeping Iran out of Syria. Iran and Israel are overt enemies. Iran supports anti-Israel groups in Palestine and Lebanon.

Jerusalem considers Iranian deployment in Syria illegitimate, necessitating a robust Israeli response.

“At the most fundamental level, Bennett needed to maintain Israel’s freedom of action in Syria. Since the outbreak of the civil war a decade ago, and the ensuing growth of Iran’s presence, the IDF has repeatedly targeted Iranian positions and those of its proxy Hezbollah. Tehran’s pretext for involvement was to bolster its ally Bashar Assad, but its goals were much larger; to expand its sphere of influence, and ultimately to transform Ba’athist Syria into an Iranian satellite, a forward position from which to threaten the “Zionist regime,”” says former Israeli ambassador Mark Regev in The Jerusalem Post. New Israeli airstrikes in the Golan and Daramsuq (Damascus) area indicate “that the crucial Israeli-Russian understandings reached since 2015 remain operative.”

In return for allowing continued actions in Syria by Israel against Iranian troops, Israel might have lowered it demands to have Assad removed. Israel has known its neighbor Assad for more than 50 years. Iran, on the other hand, is much more aggressive and expansionist.

In related news, unidentified gunmen targeted a military vehicle belonging to Iranian factions with automatic weapons near the al-Tabani desert. The incident happened in the western countryside of Dayro Zcuro (Deir ez-Zor). The unidentified gunmen killed a security official in the Iranian-affiliated al-Quds Brigade. The official, a Palestinian, was heading to a military point in Badiyat al-Tabani.