Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported that the raid by Israel on the port of Lattakia, conducted at dawn on Tuesday, intended to cut off Iran’s maritime smuggling route. The raid served as a warning message to Bashar al-Assad’s regime, according to the newspaper, which explained that it targeted an Iranian arms shipment containing air defense systems. It is likely that Iran smuggled it without Assad’s knowledge.
Ron Ben Yishai, the newspaper’s commentator for security and military affairs, wrote an extensive report today that commented on the raid. His piece explained the raid’s causes and circumstances, Iran’s smuggling operations, and the reason for Russian and regime discontent with Iran’s activities.
“This raid is the first by Israel targeting the port of Lattakia, Syria’s main port, which is the backbone of the Assad regime’s economic life, as well as its “sectarian incubator,” Ben Yishai wrote.
The Israeli military expert added that the raid serves as a warning message from Israel to the Assad regime. The message was that Israel will not relent or hesitate to harm the port of Lattakia, Syria’s economic and military pulse if the regime permits Iran to continue smuggling weapons and military equipment to the Syrian-Israeli border.
Hours after the raid, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Tel Aviv “will not stop for a second” from fighting “destructive forces,” referring to Iran’s military presence in Syria.
According to Ben Yishai, the raid targeted a shipment of air defense systems that the Iranians are trying to smuggle to the Assad regime. The weapons are intended to protect bases in Syria from Israeli air force attacks. Ben Yishai indicated that the weapons shipments fall under a defense agreement signed two years ago between Tehran and Damascus.
The Israeli military expert claimed that Iran is deceiving the Assad regime and smuggling weapons without its knowledge. Israeli estimates suggest that Assad did not know that the Iranians were smuggling anti-aircraft weapons and other weapons through containers of commercial goods in the Lattakia port.
The Iranians are trying to exploit the current circumstances, and as they negotiate these days to return to a nuclear deal in Vienna. Iran will continue to try to smuggle precision missiles and precision missile production equipment to Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as pro-Iran militias operating in Syria, Ben Yishai wrote.
Ben Yishai, who is known for his close ties to the Israeli General Staff, noted that Israel had achieved two objectives through this raid. That is, Israel struck “two birds with one stone”, being political and military objectives, by firing a few rockets at dawn.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.