Israel’s Reaction to Iran in Syria: Opting for Between Escalation and Lodging



Over the last few many years, Iran has strategically cultivated a community of allies and proxies around the Heart East, encompassing nations equivalent to Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq. This community is designed to strengthen Iranian affect and counteract its adversaries, particularly the USA and Israel. Iran’s deep-seated involvement within the Syrian war has gradually emerged as a vital danger to the U.S. technique anchored in safeguarding Israel and keeping up its army dominance within the area.

Since 2013, Syria’s regime-controlled territories have witnessed recurrent Israeli airstrikes concentrated on Iranian forces and their allied militias’ bases. Those moves articulate Israel’s multifaceted targets: obstructing the float of complex weaponry to Hezbollah, a gaggle considerably subsidized by way of Iran in southern Lebanon, and safeguarding its nationwide safety by way of neutralizing perceived threats emanating from Iranian affiliations in Syria.

The next quantitative research explores the core of Israel’s strategic airstrikes in Syria between 2013 and August 2023, a essential facet of its protection coverage all over this time, aimed toward mitigating Iranian affect within the area and protective its nationwide borders.

Purpose of the Learn about

This learn about is devoted to analyzing the publicly reported Israeli moves directed at Iran in Syria over a decade, spanning from 2013 to mid-2023. The research encompasses quite a lot of dimensions together with the quantity of goals, the intrinsic traits of those goals, and an review of Iran’s affect and dominion within the spaces underneath scrutiny.1

To verify a powerful research, the file leverages information sourced from professionals specialised in scrutinizing Israeli air raids, supplemented with reputable disclosures from the Israeli executive. Following the information assortment, a meticulous verification procedure used to be undertaken using ArcGIS instrument, which gives get admission to to satellite tv for pc imagery of the centered locales, thereby providing insights into the geographical nuances of the affected spaces and making an allowance for an in depth analysis of the magnitude and depth of the moves. This multi-faceted means guarantees a complete working out of the dynamics at play within the centered areas over the required duration.2


Israeli Technique Towards Iranian Affect in Syria (2023-2013)

Since 2013, Israel has been tracking the improvement of Iranian affect and keep an eye on in Syria, along with keeping track of Iranian actions, particularly alongside Syria’s southern fronts. The Israeli technique depends on categorizing Iranian presence and actions in keeping with their skill to pose a danger to Israeli nationwide safety. Because the starting of 2017, the Iranian danger in Syria become extra obvious, which Israel replied to by way of escalating its moves on Iranian goals within the nation.

Within the span from 2017 to mid-2023, Israel amplified its direct attacks at the places harboring Iranian forces and their allied militias throughout various Syrian territories. Apparently, Israel selected to exclude Deir ez-Zor province, positioned in jap Syria, from its listing of centered spaces, although it’s been a vital hub of Iranian keep an eye on since 2018. This exclusionary coverage is grounded in Deir ez-Zor’s geographical disposition — its remoteness from Israeli borders and the presence of U.S. forces within reach. Because of this, the onus of restraining Iran in jap Syria apparently falls upon the U.S. forces.

Research of Israeli Moves In response to Geographical Information

To delineate the Israeli strategic blueprint in Syria extra obviously, it’s advisable to section it in keeping with the chronological stages of the concentrated on operations. This facilitates a deeper working out of the evolving dynamics and lets in for a nuanced research of the geopolitical methods hired through the years. It will be important to delve into every duration one at a time to appreciate the transferring paradigms and the underlying motivations steerage Israel’s movements in Syria, which will also be labeled in line with the duration in query, as follows:

The Time Length Prior to 2016:

  • The preliminary Israeli technique of coping with early phases of Iranian affect.

  • Center of attention on Iranian presence in Damascus and explicit spaces in Rural Damascus (Rif Dimashq) Governorate.

The Time Length After 2016:

  • The rise in Israeli moves concentrated on strategic places managed by way of Iran.

  • The trade in Iranian technique, focusing extra on native allies in Syria.

Research of Moves and Affect Till the Finish of 2016

Israel initiated a sequence of centered moves in 2013, specializing in spaces with a vital presence of Iranian forces or their allied militias. Via the end result of 2016, Israel had orchestrated 14 precision moves, strategically dispersed throughout 3 number one areas: Damascus, the adjacent Rural Damascus, and Latakia. Inspecting the duration from 2013 to 2016, it turns into obtrusive that Israel’s technique used to be formulated to curb the embryonic phases of Iranian infiltration and enlargement in Syria. Iran, all over this era, strategically centralized its operations within the capital, Damascus, with a notable emphasis at the Sayyida Zeinab area and different pivotal spaces in Rural Damascus. The Damascus World Airport emerged as a essential hub on this technique, serving as Iran’s sole channel for dispatching enhance to its incipient militias in Syria.

An in depth breakdown of the Israeli operations unveils a concentrated means, with a vital 87% of the moves concentrated on the nerve facilities in Rural Damascus and the capital town, aiming to thwart Iran’s foundational efforts in organising a stronghold. In the meantime, a smaller but considerable fraction of the operations, accounting for 12%, used to be directed towards strategic issues within the Latakia Governorate.

Map 1 gives a visible illustration of Iran’s and its militias’ operational zones all over this time frame and the way this state of affairs is mirrored within the Israeli technique. Certainly, the latter reflected the restrained Iranian enlargement via centered interventions, specializing in the burgeoning hubs of Iranian keep an eye on.

Map 1
Map 1 above: Iran’s spaces of affect on the finish of 2016 — Israeli moves from 2012 to the tip of 2016


Research of Moves and Affect from 2017 to 2023

As of 2017, Iran’s sphere of affect in Syria considerably grew from what it used to be on the shut of 2016. During the time frame extending from 2017 to Aug. 31, 2023, Iran particularly broadened its foothold in Syria, effectively organising keep an eye on over essential world roadways, a lot of strategic land passages, and the pivotal airports of Damascus and Aleppo, along quite a lot of army bases, and airstrips.

Upon scrutinizing the trajectory of Israeli airstrikes and the particular goals inside Syria, a discernible post-2017 escalation within the Israeli offensive technique is clear. Whilst it could be a simple deduction to understand this escalation as Israel’s intensified undertaking to counteract the Iranian initiative within the area, the underlying truth is relatively other.

Iran used to be gradually venturing into new territories, a strategic transfer that necessarily forced Israel to enlarge its airstrike campaigns and revisit its targets in Syria. This era witnessed Iran now not simply consolidating its present bases but in addition venturing into new strategic geographic spaces, thereby necessitating a recalibrated means from Israel to safeguard its pursuits.

Maps 2 and 3 supply an in depth graphical representation of Iran’s and its militias’ spaces of affect and keep an eye on, from 2016 to August 2023. Moreover, those maps elucidate Israel’s strategic aerial bombardment means, which used to be essentially targeted on addressing the increasing facilities of Iranian affect.

Map 2
Map 2 above: Iran’s spaces of affect on the finish of 2022 — Israeli moves from 2016 to the tip of 2022


Map 3
Map 3 above: Iran’s spaces of affect August 2023 — Israeli moves from Jan. 1, 2023, to Aug. 31, 2023


Research of Israeli Moves In response to Temporal and Geographical Information

Between 2016 and mid-2023, Israel stated it had to deal with the burgeoning Iranian affect and territorial keep an eye on in quite a lot of areas of Syria. This era marked Israel’s (and the U.S.’s) strategic operations concentrated on 192 websites throughout 12 governorates that have been recognized to harbor Iranian forces or affiliated militias. Of those operations, 13 have been directed at Iranian strongholds within the Deir ez-Zor Governorate; then again, those have been achieved by way of the U.S. forces, now not by way of Israel.

An important 61% of those Israeli operations have been centered alongside Syria’s southern fronts. Intriguingly, this 61% will also be dissected into two distinct time frames. The primary spans from 2013 as much as the purpose when the Russian-backed regime assumed keep an eye on of the realm. All over this segment, the area used to be predominantly underneath the keep an eye on of opposition forces, organising a powerful buffer zone that successfully thwarted attainable Iranian threats. Because of this, Israeli moves all over this era accounted for an insignificant 8% of the whole operations. Against this, the second one segment, from the Russian and Syrian regime takeover as much as the existing day, witnessed a surge in Iranian actions. The absence of the opposition’s buffer allowed Iran to function with relative freedom within the area, resulting in Israeli moves constituting a staggering 52% of the total operations. An easy mathematical research underscores the pivotal function the Syrian regime’s keep an eye on over the southern areas performed in facilitating Iran and its militias’ expansive affect in those spaces. This keep an eye on now not most effective reinforced Iran’s army presence but in addition enabled it to deploy cutting edge keep an eye on mechanisms, equivalent to its “cushy equipment.” Those methods have allowed Iran to take care of dominance by way of leveraging quite a lot of native tools throughout other sectors.3

This strategic focal point used to be pushed by way of this house’s geographical proximity to Israel, which heightened the chance of threats to Israel’s nationwide safety from Iran and its allied militias. The ones teams established a vital presence by way of seizing keep an eye on over a lot of native army bases and air-defense installations. Moreover, they proceed to exert keep an eye on over essential land routes and airports in southern Syria, amplifying the safety considerations for Israel.4

Tables 1 and 2 display the Israeli moves in Syria by way of 12 months, highlighting a duration of minimum or restricted Iranian task from 2013 to 2017. Since then, the Iranian affect expanded, thus prompting an build up in Israeli moves. As indicated within the tables, there used to be a vital surge in Israeli aerial assaults after 2017, achieving its height in 2022 with a complete of 48 centered moves on quite a lot of places in Syria. In 2023, from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, Israel performed 30 moves, with part of them centered at the spaces surrounding Damascus and the Aleppo World Airport.

This information displays Israel’s adaptive strategic reaction to the rising Iranian affect in Syria, showcasing a dedication to protective its nationwide safety via escalated efforts in recent times.

Desk 1: Israeli Moves by way of Yr

Table 1

Desk 2: Israeli Moves by way of Yr and Governorate

Table 2


Research of Israeli Moves In response to Centered Websites/Places

Distribution of Israeli Moves In response to Army Websites

Since 2011, Iran has intensified its army interventions in Syria, aiming to ascertain a dominant army presence and additional its purpose of accomplishing regional hegemony. This construction stands as a right away danger now not most effective to Israel but in addition to the wider area. Israel perceives this rising Iranian army footprint in Syria as a vital safety worry. Because of this, it’s been actively running to curb Iran’s army sway in quite a lot of Syrian governorates, guided by way of a strategic means in deciding on explicit goals. This initiative is grounded in Israel’s dedication to safeguarding its safety and protecting its regional pursuits. Over the last few years, Israel has centered its efforts on neutralizing attainable threats emanating from army analysis facilities situated in Masyaf and Jamraya, which can be believed to be pivotal to Iran’s endeavors to give a boost to its missile features within Syria.

The precise concentrated on of Syria’s army analysis facilities by way of Israel during the last 12 months is emblematic of a broader geopolitical technique aimed toward curtailing Iran’s ambitions within the area. Central to this technique is Israel’s resolution to thwart Iran’s efforts to strengthen its missile features inside Syrian borders. Traditionally, Israel has been vigilant about threats emanating from its speedy neighbors. The new studies in southern Lebanon, with Hezbollah, and within the Gaza Strip, with Hamas, had been instructive. In each areas, the adversaries have been supplied with complex missile techniques in a position to posing vital a danger to Israeli territory. In southern Lebanon, Hezbollah’s arsenal, believed to be provided in large part by way of Iran, has long-range missiles that may succeed in deep into Israel. In a similar fashion, rocket assaults originating from Gaza underscored the power danger from complex missile techniques.

Given this backdrop, Israel’s movements in Syria will also be seen as a proactive measure to forestall the emergence of a 3rd entrance the place complex missile techniques, particularly the ones enhanced by way of Iranian experience, can pose a long-range direct danger. Concentrated on Syria’s army analysis facilities, which can be pivotal to the improvement of missile generation, can thus considerably hinder Iran’s endeavors. The prime recurrence of Israel’s sortie assaults on those websites suggests the function used to be to disrupt those goals at explicit junctures, thereby hindering the continual growth of Iran’s missile initiatives.

This means is not only about speedy protection however could also be a part of a long-term technique. Israel goals to make sure that it doesn’t in finding itself encircled by way of areas underneath the keep an eye on of complex missile techniques. This kind of state of affairs would now not most effective pressure Israeli protection but in addition tilt the strategic stability within the area, probably emboldening adversaries and escalating tensions.

Distribution of Israeli Moves at the Coastal Governorates (Tartus and Latakia)

In 2022, Iran and its affiliated militias visibly expanded their affect alongside the Syrian coast, capitalizing on Russia’s diverted consideration because of its engagement within the Ukraine invasion. This invasion necessitated a shift in Russia’s army technique in Syria, changing its regimen of quarterly staff rotations between Syria and different active-duty places. Because of this, Russia reconfigured its troop deployments inside Syria, together with a notable withdrawal from southern Syria to relocate forces to Tabqa, in Raqqa Governorate. Those strikes ended in vacuums of keep an eye on in southern, coastal, and central areas of Syria.

Seizing this chance, Iran rapidly moved to fill those vacuums, organising a foothold to additional its affect via “cushy energy equipment.” Iran’s efforts have been additional reinforced following the Feb. 6, 2023, earthquake, a devastating crisis that affected many spaces, together with the Syrian coast. Leveraging its native allies, Iran facilitated assist distribution and established a provider function within the area, working out that the disaster may probably take away limitations up to now hindering its deployment alongside Syria’s coast.

Desk 3 delineates the specifics of Israeli moves aimed toward places both immediately or not directly connected to the Iranian presence within the Syrian coastal governorates. A good portion of those moves, 60%, centered Tartus Governorate, with part of those specializing in air-defense websites in 2022.

Desk 3: Israeli Concentrated on within the Coastal Governorates

Table 3


Distribution of Israeli Moves In response to the Centered Airports

Since getting into the Syrian war, Iran has aimed to safe keep an eye on over quite a lot of native airports, together with each world and army amenities. Then again, Iranian presence at those places has fluctuated over the years, as mirrored within the various frequency of Israeli assaults on those airports. For example, whilst 2016 noticed no Israeli moves on Syrian airports, 2018 skilled 9 assaults on six other airports, together with 4 army ones. A constant focal point of those moves has been the al-Tayyas Airbase and Damascus World Airport.

Damascus World Airport holds strategic significance, serving numerous passengers yearly and facilitating flights to quite a lot of towns inside Syria and its neighboring nations. It has additionally served as a an important level for Iran to provide its forces and enhance its best friend, Hezbollah, in Lebanon. Over the last decade, this airport has been a number one goal for Israel, with a vital build up in assaults in recent times, peaking in 2022.

Spotting the recurrent concentrated on of the Damascus World Airport by way of Israel, Iran initiated a plan in 2022 to ascertain another air-supply course. This resulted in the reopening of the Aleppo World Airport in February 2020, a transfer complemented by way of the inauguration of an Iranian consulate in Aleppo in Might 2021. This technique facilitated a safe channel for Iran to maintain its forces in Syria that avoids the closely centered Damascus course.

Moreover, 2021 and 2022 marked a shift within the operational bases of a number of Iranian non-public firms from Damascus to Aleppo, indicating Iran’s rising emphasis on bolstering its presence in Aleppo via quite a lot of manner, together with improving keep an eye on over the Aleppo World Airport and lengthening its army, safety, political, and financial affect within the area.

Desk 4 supplies detailed information on Israeli moves concentrated on world and army airports from 2013 to Aug. 31, 2023, providing a complete view of the evolving dynamics within the area. What emerges from this knowledge is proof of strategic shifts and variations in Iran’s method to keeping up its affect and operations in Syria amidst the continued war.5

Desk 4: Moves on World and Army Airports

Table 4


Within the preliminary months of 2023, Israel scaled again its operations, concentrated on fewer places in comparison to earlier years. Then again, the moves that have been performed had a pronounced have an effect on. Particularly, on Jan. 2, 2023, Israel struck Damascus World Airport, rendering it non-operational for a complete day.

Later within the first quarter, on March 7, 2023, Israel initiated an exceptional strike on Aleppo World Airport. This assault used to be the primary of its sort in 2023, and the primary because the devastating earthquake on Feb. 6. The operation halted the airport’s products and services from March 7 to ten. Those strikes underscore that world tendencies have now not swayed Israel’s made up our minds method to countering Iranian enlargement in Syria. It’s obtrusive that Israel stays steadfast in its solution to curb Iranian affect within the area, undeterred by way of transferring dynamics at the world level.6


Abstract of Findings

Because the graduation of its direct intervention in Syria, Iran has been actively striving to enlarge and solidify its keep an eye on and sway there. Tehran has delineated a number of strategic targets in Syria, the main being the established order of a mutual border with Israel, leveraging the Syrian and Lebanese fronts. This undertaking comes to safeguarding a conduit for army help to Hezbollah in Lebanon, maintaining the Syrian regime, and fostering its strategic aspirations within the area. In charting those Iranian expansionary actions and Israeli counter-measures, it’s conceivable to conclude:

  1. Iran has been actively running to extend its affect and keep an eye on in Syria because the starting of its direct intervention within the area, with a number one function of organising a shared border with Israel during the Syrian and Lebanese fronts.
  2. Iran’s technique in Syria comprises supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon, keeping up the Syrian regime, and advancing its personal regional strategic pursuits.
  3. Iran has been influencing the army and safety establishments in spaces managed by way of the Syrian regime and has reworked Syria into a coaching floor for its international militias.
  4. Through the years, Israel has been proactive in its protection technique, as evidenced by way of the a lot of hits it has performed on quite a lot of goals inside Syria. Those goals have now not been selected at random; they’re steadily places with vital affect or presence of Iran and Hezbollah. Each entities are seen by way of Israel as ambitious adversaries with expansionist ambitions within the Heart East, and their rising foothold in Syria has been a motive for worry for Israeli protection and intelligence communities. The reason at the back of those hits is multifaceted, by way of concentrated on those places, Israel goals to disrupt the logistical and operational features of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria. This comprises hindering the switch of complex weaponry, obstructing the established order of everlasting army bases, and fighting the introduction of a continual land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean, which might facilitate the motion of guns, staff, and sources.
  5. The frequency and depth of Israel’s airstrikes had been immediately proportional to the perceived stage of danger. As Iran and Hezbollah have intensified their efforts to consolidate their positions in Syria, Israel has replied with higher vigor. For example, when intelligence reviews point out the switch of precision-guided missiles or different complex weaponry, Israel has steadily acted rapidly to neutralize the danger. In a similar fashion, any makes an attempt by way of Hezbollah to ascertain a more potent presence close to the Israeli-Syrian border had been met with decisive motion.
  6. Israel’s airstrikes in Syria are a manifestation of its broader solution to counter the rising affect of Iran and Hezbollah within the area. Via appearing preemptively and decisively, Israel goals to make sure that the stability of energy does now not tilt unfavorably and that its nationwide safety stays uncompromised.
  7. Between 2013 and Aug. 31, 2023, Israel performed 226 moves in Syria, with 172 obviously recognized goals and 54 last unspecified. The principle purpose of those moves used to be to forestall Iran and Hezbollah from strengthening their positions and roles within the Syrian war.
  8. Iran is made up our minds to enlarge its presence in Syria, showcasing its dedication to supporting the Syrian regime and sending a powerful message to Israel, the U.S., and different nations. This comes to improving its army place and missile features in Syria.
  9. Bearing in mind efforts towards world rapprochement with the Syrian regime,7 specifically within the area, Iran would possibly in finding itself wanting to redefine its presence and keep an eye on and depend extra on its native allies in Syria.
  10. Given the numerous army and safety tendencies within the area, specifically following the Israeli war within the Gaza Strip, there may be an higher want for extra meticulous commentary of the converting dynamics. It will be important to know Iran’s attainable methods in Syria, particularly since Israel has explicitly indicated a shift in its regulations of engagement within the area via its moves at the Damascus and Aleppo airports. Israel justified the ones movements as a reaction to a number of mortar assaults from the Syrian facet. Then again, the character of the ones moves differed from Israel’s earlier responses, showing extra as an illustration of Israeli army prowess. This kind of tough reaction to a couple of mortar shells means that Israel’s intent used to be to exhibit its capacity to function on a couple of fronts, slightly than simply a retaliation for the wear and tear led to by way of the mortars.


In regards to the Writer

Navvar Şaban is an army and safety skilled on the Turkey-based Omran Heart for Strategic Research. He focuses on equipment of Iranian affect in Syria and Iraq, focusing particularly on Shi’a defense force task. Şaban holds an MBA from the College of Wollongong in Dubai, a Bachelor of Pc Science level from American College in Dubai, and Bachelor’s in World Family members and Nationwide Safety Research from Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim College.



1 The file clarifies the collection of goals, whether or not they have been Israeli air moves or long-range missiles. Then again, the file does now not explain the collection of moves on a unmarried goal, which can lead to a mismatch between the collection of moves cited under as opposed to the quantity formally stated by way of Israel.

2 The mechanism for acquiring knowledge and places used to be acquired the use of the next equipment: an archive compiled by way of non-public researcher and skilled in Syrian geography and geospatial positioning “Samir” (@obretix), the Israeli media, in addition to Iranian jihadist websites that revealed pictures of Islamic Progressive Guard Corps staff killed in Syria.

3 The southern fronts of Syria span the governorates of As-Suwayda, Daraa, Quneitra, and Rural Damascus, in addition to town of Damascus.

4 In spite of the multiplicity of resources in regards to the tracking of Israeli raids on Iranian websites in Syria, it used to be now not conceivable to verify the true goal at the back of some Israeli moves; preliminary reviews steered that those moves have been aimed toward neutralizing sure army figures from the Iranian Progressive Guard Corps or from Lebanese Hezbollah. All these requests have been in Damascus Governorate and Rural Damascus, along with the jap nation-state of Homs.

5 “إعادة تشغيل مطار حلب الدولي بعد توقفه لنحو 9 سنوات.. شاهد التفاصيل [Restarting Aleppo International Airport after it stopped for about 9 years.. See the details],” Al Ghad TV, YouTube, February 20, 2020,; “Inauguration of the Iranian Consulate Normal in Aleppo,” SANA Information, Might 22, 2021,; “Opening of an Iranian Consulate within the Syrian Town of Aleppo: Goals and Implications,” Emirates Coverage Heart, June 22, 2021, points/transient/aiftitah-qunsuliya-iiraniya-fi-madinat-halab-alsuwriya-alahdaf-waldalalat.

7 Danny Makki, “Syria’s financial freefall continues regardless of Arab League go back,” Heart East Institute, August 16, 2023,; Danny Makki, “The UAE paves approach for Syria’s go back to the Arab fold, however numerous hurdles stay,” Heart East Institute, January 31, 2022,



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