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#Israel strongly believes that #Iran is staging weapons system in #Syria in places like Aleppo, T4 in E Homs & even Boukamal, and that such weapons are intended for use against Israel & not for purposes of supporting Syrian Army against ISIS or insurgents. Is Israel wrong? =>
2-Interestingly, as the risks of a wider conflict pitting Israel & Iran seem to gather steam in policy circles, the facts on the grounds concerning Iran's presence in Syria have been heading the other direction of late. Set below are the reasons why: ==>
3-It was always the case that the presence of Iran in Syria was positively correlated with the intensity of the war and the probability of Assad's fall from power. As the latter risks have diminished, one ought to expect a similar retracement in Iran's influence & presence ==>
4-By all accounts, #Hizbollah has been steadily withdrawing its units from #Syria and it reportedly now has only 10% of its forces from the peak days in Dec 2016. The recent Israeli strikes & the the wind down of war itself has had similar effect on Iranian militia presence
5-But is Iran capable of turning Syria (18 times larger than Lebanon) into another front against Israel? Does Iran have the manpower to do so? Does it have a reliable Hizbollah-type org. in Syria? Since Syria has hardly any Shias, will Alawis do Iran's work? Answer to all is No
6-Importantly, the last thing that Assad wants now is a war with Israel. Similarly, had Iran been able to respond to Israel's constant provocations, it would have done so already. Fact is that Tehran lacks the forces and means to wage any credible war on Israel from Syria
7-After 7 years of war, any novice analyst knows that Syria's offensive military capabilities are totally lacking when it comes to taking on or attacking an adversary like Israel, and launching a dozen useless grad missiles doesn't exactly qualify as waging an offensive
8-In spite of all the above, both in Israel & in many DC circles, consensus continues to build that Tehran is stockpiling long range missiles in Syria under Iranian & Hizbollah control, thereby replicating the Lebanese front on Syrian soil. How does one counter this charge?
9-As noted earlier, Hizbollah now only has 10% of its units compared to peak of 2016. Similarly, NDF/LDF that used to be almost 90k are now closer to 3k. Moreover, Damascus just forbade Iraqi forces from using Syrian border near remote Boukamal areas without being searched by SAA
10-The real story is not that Iran is stockpiling LR missiles but that the war is steadily winding down & as this happens, the influence and numbers of HA, NDF, LDF, Iranian advisors, units and militias are all in steady decline & heading back down to pre-2011 levels.
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