Senior officer: Iranian-backed forces withdrawing from Syria due to IDF strikes

Military says Hezbollah and other militia groups supported by Tehran seen leaving region after recent uptick in airstrikes attributed to Israel

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

A cloud of smoke rises after an alleged airstrike near the Syrian city of Masyaf, on August 25, 2022. (Social media)
A cloud of smoke rises after an alleged airstrike near the Syrian city of Masyaf, on August 25, 2022. (Social media)

A senior Israel Defense Forces officer told reporters on Thursday that the military has identified that Hezbollah and other Iran-backed militias in Syria are beginning to withdraw from the region following a series of airstrikes attributed to Israel in recent weeks.

The officer said the apparent withdrawal of these forces from the area is “a result of the IDF strikes.”

Israeli defense officials have made such claims before, most recently in 2020.

Recent airstrikes attributed to Israel disrupted operations at the Aleppo and Damascus airports, in an attempt to stem weapon shipments from Iran to the Hezbollah terror group via Syria.

Other recent airstrikes Syria has blamed on Israel targeted a Syrian military site-turned-weapons factory in Masyaf.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday that Iran had converted the Scientific Studies and Research Center, as well as other sites across the country, into factories for long-range precision missiles for Hezbollah.

In this photo released by ImageSat International on September 2, 2022, damage is seen to the Scientific Studies and Research Center in Masyaf, Syria (ImageSat International)

Earlier this month, Russia reportedly demanded that Iran and its militias withdraw from positions across Syria, as it was seeking to maintain stability and to deprive Israel of targets to bomb in areas Moscow sees as important.

As a rule, Israel’s military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country.

The IDF says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

The most recent reported Israeli airstrike occurred last Wednesday, when the Aleppo International Airport was damaged for the second time in under a week.

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