The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division rejected Israeli claims that most of the missiles fired at Islamic State targets in Syria last week missed their target.
According to the Iranian state-run Press TV news agency, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said all six missiles had “successfully struck their targets and, in this regard, we released videos recorded by unmanned aircraft.”
Israeli sources — Hajizadeh referred to them as “Zionist circles” — said seven missiles were fired, and most fell in Iraqi territory, failing to make it to Syria.
But the Iranian general insisted that what the Israelis had detected was the missiles’ “detachable bodies,” in Press TV’s words, which were intentionally dropped in mid-flight over Iraqi territory.
Last Tuesday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot downplayed the significance of the missile strike, saying “the operational achievement was less than what was reported in the media.”
The army chief’s remarks appeared to confirm the claims made by anonymous Israeli security sources on Monday that only one or two of the Iranian missiles that were launched actually hit their target.
“If the Iranians were trying to show their capabilities and to signal to Israel and to the Americans that these missiles are operational, the result was rather different,” Channel 2 analyst Ehud Yaari said. It was “a flop,” said Ya’ari. “A failure.” Still, he added dryly, “it photographed well.
The missiles were fired last Sunday and targeted Islamic State installations in northeastern Syria in response to an IS-claimed assault on the Iranian parliament and the shrine of the regime’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran on June 7 that killed 18.
Hajizadeh claimed “tremendous damage” was caused to IS, killing more than 170 IS fighters, including a number of commanders.
One missile also struck a 28,000-liter fuel tanker, sparking a “huge” blaze, Hajizadeh said.
The missile strike, he said, was intended as a message to all supporters of “terrorists” in the region, an apparent veiled reference to Iran’s Sunni opponents and Israel.
Though he denied their efficacy, Eisenkot acknowledged that the missiles “made a statement” to the world about Iran’s preparedness to use its ballistic missiles, something it hadn’t done since 1988.
Eisenkot said, “perhaps the terror attacks in Iran are the price for its involvement in Syria and its actions against the Islamic State.”
Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Eisenkot also addressed the Lebanon-based Iranian proxy terror group Hezbollah.
Hezbollah, he said, possesses “tens of thousands” of long- and short-range rockets, drones, advanced computer encryption capabilities, as well as advanced defense capabilities like the SA-6 anti-aircraft missile system.
Hezbollah’s Iranian and Syrian weaponry are freely given, the IDF chief said, but its Russian equipment is “taken without permission, under [the Russians’] noses.”
Israel does not typically admit to its military operations abroad, but Eisenkot told the crowd that Israel has worked, is working “on an almost daily basis,” and will work to prevent advanced weaponry from being transferred to Hezbollah.
Though the Iran-backed Shiite terrorist group represents a clear threat to Israel, Eisenkot noted that the group is currently in dire straits, mostly as a result of its continued fighting in the Syrian civil war on behalf of Tehran.
A third of the group’s fighting force is currently entrenched in Syria, where Hezbollah has suffered some 8,000 casualties and is struggling to provide for their treatment and rehab due to budgetary issues, Eisenkot said.