The Arabic website Al-Jarida reported on July 21 that Israel will bomb Iraq and that it has obtained a list of Iranian targets. A PDF of the cover of the newspaper was placed on the site with a satellite image. The article, translated below says the following:
“Al-Jarida learned from informed sources that Israel has set a list of targets inside Iraqi territory, in preparation for hitting them, claiming that they were Iranian military sites used to transport weapons, equipment and elements to Syria.”
It continued: “In the past two months, Al-Jarida obtained exclusive aerial photographs of the targets that Israel intends to hit, including border crossings with Iran, such as Mehran and Bashmak [??], along with the Shalamjah border with Basra and near Kuwait. The sources pointed out that in recent years, Israel has frequently monitored Iranian attempts to create a land corridor from Tehran through Baghdad to Syrian territory, adding that some of these Iraqi positions now controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were under the control of the US military in Iraq.”
The sites include “H3 [air base], and the military site of Rutba, as well as locations on important roads near villages and towns, such as the Al-Burr [unclear translationصبا البور] and other Iraqi military positions.”
The site “pointed out that Israel bombed last week a site in Syria” which refers to the alleged air strike on Aleppo (my report in the link). There is also reference apparently to the Albukamal strike in early June, see my report in the link.
Al-Jarida continues: “this remarkable development comes after Israel realized that Tehran insists on transferring arms to Syria in order to settle militarily, despite all the diplomatic and political pressures on it, and is quickly trying to repair what Israel is bombing, to build a military force in Syria at any price.” Recent photos showed Iran had repaired a facility at Damascus airport. “The implementation of this Israeli threat would represent a change in the rules of the game, and perhaps an attempt by Tel Aviv to expand the map of confrontation with Iran, after the Syrian regime began to control the Quneitra border with the territory occupied by Israel from the Golan Heights.” This refers to the agreement by the rebels to leave Quneitra that was agreed on July 19.
Al-Jarida also connects this to the claims of a US withdrawal from Tanf garrison. “The Israeli threat also comes amid reports of a US withdrawal from the Al-Tanf base in the border triangle between Iraq, Syria and Jordan, which plays a role in monitoring and maintaining US control of the Iraq-Syria border.” I reported on this on July 11.
“There have been reports that Washington could withdraw from Syria and most of the important points in Iraq in return for removing Iran from Syria if a government is formed in Baghdad to maintain a balance between America and Iran, which seems self-evident in view of the legislative results of the May election.”
An important report
Al-Jarida’s report may appear to be rumor, but it is likely based on more than that. This is an important report that sends a message to Tehran that its forces are not safe anywhere. It is part of the great game in a sense between Jerusalem and Tehran, but more broadly about setting the rules of the post-Syrian civil war era. With the defeat of the rebels in Dara’a the civil war is over and the struggle for Syria moves to Moscow, Washington, Ankara and Tehran. It also involves Jerusalem. Netanyahu spoke to Putin on July 20 about Syria. This indicates that Israel must set red lines quickly before Tehran gets any ideas. The allegations of Israeli airstrikes in Aleppo and in Albukamal point to a new “map,” if the allegations are accurate. But Iraq is the real conduit for the IRGC-backed Hasdh al-Shaabi militias. Iran feels it is on the winning side in the region after ISIS. Jerusalem feels threatened by that, despite the US claims in May that it would be walking away from the Iran deal, and despite more than 100 admitted airstrikes in five years against weapons transfers via Syria.
I have termed this Clausewitz-style air power diplomacy. Now the question mark is in Iraq, according to Al-Jarida.