Overnight a consensus of talking heads and internet commentators came to the conclusion that it was Israel who bombed the Syrian military base Sunday night U.S. time, Monday morning Syrian time. That consensus is probably correct for many reasons, but if it was Israel, it had nothing to do with Assad’s chemical weapons attack the day before.
You won’t hear the Israeli military confirm or deny that it was the IAF that bombed Syria’s T-4 military air base in Homs province in the early hours of Monday, April 9 (Syria Time). The Israeli defense forces never confirm or deny those kinds of reports. It took eleven years for them to admit they destroyed the Syrian nuclear reactor just before it went operational in 2007.
On Saturday Syrian despot Assad’s used launched a chemical weapons attack against a hospital in rebel territory. President Trump’s immediate response was threatening,
Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2018
….to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2018
But on second thought, it didn’t make sense that the attack came from America, especially when it was announced that the U.S. will partner with France on any action, and the President wouldn’t be meeting with his military team about Syria until dinner on Monday Evening (DC time). When the U.S denied they were involved, well–it was time to find another bomber.
This attack had nothing to do with Assad’s chemical attack and everything to do with Iran. The T-4 base may on Syrian land but for all intents and purposes is operated by the Iranian National Guard. If conducted by Israel, the Monday morning attack was at least the third time IAF planes struck the T-4 base.
Two months ago, in February an Iranian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drone) entered Israeli airspace from Syria and was shot down by the IAF. The drone was launched from the T-4 airbase and though it could have been destroyed over Syria, the Israeli Air Force helicopter didn’t shoot it down until it reached Israeli territory so the drone could be studied. Once the drone was shot down, the IAF immediately attacked Iran’s drone command and control unit which was based at the same T-4 military airport that was bombed Monday.
At the time of the February incident, the IDF issued a press release that said in part:
“Iran and the [Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ special unit] Quds Force for some time have been operating the T-4 Air Base in Syria next to Palmyra, with support from the Syrian military and with permission from the Syrian regime”
Even that wasn’t the first reported time the Israeli Air Force visited T-4. A year earlier in March 2016, the IAF hit a Hezbollah weapons convoy that had just picked up Iranian arms at the T-4 base. In other words, the Israeli Air Force is very familiar with the T-4 military base and it is crucial for her self-defense that Israel discourages Iran from increasing its military presence in Syria.
If/when the United States punishes Syria for the chemical weapons attack, it probably won’t be via an Air Force bombing but like the April 2017 attack, the American military will probably use Tomahawk cruise missiles which is less dangerous for American heroes than bombing sorties.
An American attack wouldn’t target T-4 which is controlled by Iran, but more likely a base housing the Syrian planes that conducted the chemical attack. For example, the Shayrat base was targeted in last year’s cruise missile attack specifically because it was used by the Syrian Air Force to deliver its chemical weapons.
And keep in mind that this would be a second U.S. attack. Therefore, an American attack would likely be much harsher than the April 2017 launch of 59 cruise missiles.
Lending credence to the Israeli attack theory is that on Monday morning prior to the reports of a bombing in Syria, there were reports of IAF activity over Lebanon. Tracking from Lebanon into Syria is another indication that the attack came from Israel.
In a strange move, both Russia and Syria have blamed Israel for the attack. For Syria to blame Israel for the attack, it would be an admission that the IAF was able to navigate Syrian airspace, not something helpful to Assad. Remember, Assad never blamed Israel for destroying their nuclear reactor back in 2007, and it wasn’t because they didn’t know.
It is very unlikely that the Israeli attack on the T-4 base had anything to do with the Assad chemical weapons attack on the rebel hospital. I submit that the U.S. and/or France will be attacking Syria as a response to the chemical attack later in the week. Any participation by Israel in that mission would be used to as a propaganda tool to condemn that action to the Israel hating Arab population. No this was separate, it was an attack on Iran, to prevent them from getting too comfortable in Syria where the rogue nation can breathe down Israel’s neck.
Undoubtedly Israel coordinated this attack with the United States military. Not asking for help or permission, but to ensure that both countries weren’t executing their differing missions at the same time, confusing or even totally damaging the efforts.
Russia is most likely correct, Israel was behind the Monday morning attack, and if the U.S. retaliates against Syria later in the week, Israel’s choice of timing is brilliant, because in a few days no one will likely remember Israel’s attack on Syria’s T-4 military base except Iran, rather the attention will be focused on what is expected to be a much larger attack by the U.S.A.F.