Amid confusing reports of a drone attack on an Iranian ship in the Mediterranean heading for Syria, Iran appears to have moved its arms shipments to Syria and Lebanon from land – where Israel regularly monitored and destroyed them – at sea. Here, such weapons transit can receive protection from Russian warships in the Mediterranean. This is stated in a publication on the Breaking Defense portal on April 27.
At the same time, Israel stepped up its air attacks against “Iranian” targets in Syria after the weapons began to be delivered by sea. The last such attack was on April 22, the newspaper notes.
Sources in the Israeli defense system say Iranian ships are leaving the Red Sea, passing through the Suez Canal and arriving in the Mediterranean. Their shipping documents claim that they only carry oil, but there are indications that “oil is not the only cargo.”
Israel finds itself in a situation where there is little that can be done to stop this new route from Iran to Syria.
“Moscow achieves two goals here: to show Washington that it is very limited in its actions in the Middle East, and to support Iran in negotiations with the US on a nuclear deal,” Israeli Iranian expert Uzi Rabi told BD.
Military analysts say Russia’s latest surface and submarine ships, armed with Caliber cruise missiles, could target the entire Mediterranean region and much of the Middle East. According to Rabi, Israel is almost paralyzed when Iranian ships sail across the Mediterranean on their way to Syria after crossing the Suez Canal, because “the rules of the game at sea are different.”
“What was achievable when Israel acted against land and air supplies of weapons from Iran to Syria is not applicable when operations are conducted at sea under a Russian umbrella,” the source said.
Israeli sources told BD that the shift is due to the success of the Jewish state’s massive campaign against Iranian arms supplies to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel launched hundreds of attacks on convoys bound for Lebanon, as well as locations in Syria where Iranian-made strike systems were allegedly stored prior to being sent to Beirut.
Earlier in the Russian media there were reports that a “Russian-Iranian-Syrian battalion” will be deployed in the Mediterranean to ensure the safe arrival of oil, flour and other essential goods to Syria by waterway. Israeli defense sources say the fleet can defend merchant ships “over water and under water.” According to these sources, negotiations have already taken place between Russia, Iran and Syria to end the suffocating US-European blockade of Syria. The first goal of this agreement is to ensure the flow of oil to Syrian ports, as Damascus suffers from severe fuel shortages due to the seizure of oil wells by the US military to the east of Deir ez-Zor and the smuggling of oil from Syria to Iraq, notes BD.
Israeli sources added that it looks like the Russian plan is to escort ships from Iran to Syria, which have been “painted red” by Israeli intelligence, to prevent any Tel Aviv action against them, the newspaper concludes.
As previously reported, the Chief of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, threatened to retaliate against Israel on April 25 after an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Syria was attacked a day earlier, killing three people on a merchant ship. The warning came the day after an Iranian fuel tanker carrying oil to Syria was attacked at the port of Banias in the Arab Republic. According to the Syrian state news agency SANA, the vessel was attacked using an unmanned aerial vehicle, allegedly launched from Lebanese territorial waters. Bagheri’s comments also followed the recent explosion at a uranium enrichment plant in Iran’s Natanz, in which Islamic Republic officials blamed Israel and promised revenge on “aggressor territory.”